Northrop Grumman, SpaceX File Protests Over ULA

Northrop Grumman Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) filed complaints with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over pending approval of the United Launch Alliance (ULA).

The joint venture, which received preliminary approval in October, would combine the government launch vehicle operations of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

SpaceX, which would be a competitor for U.S. government business, calls the ULA a monopoly in violation of U.S. antitrust laws.

Northrop Grumman does not compete in the launch vehicle market, but bases its protest on competition in the satellite manufacturing arena: Northrop Grumman claims that, during the formation of the ULA, Northrop Grumman would have to share confidential information with Boeing and Lockheed Martin that may work to the latter companies’ advantage in future competition.

"Given that Northrop’s confidential and competitively sensitive information is acknowledged to be at risk here," Northrop vice president and deputy general counsel Stephen Yslas wrote in the complaint, "we are therefore compelled to ask how it will be protected?"

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