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SpaceX settles dispute with US Air Force over national security space launches

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SpaceX has announced it has settled its dispute with the United States Air Force and will dismiss standing claims in a US federal claims court. Last year, Elon Musk and Co. accused the Air Force of stifling competition in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program by allowing United Launch Alliance — a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing — to keep a monopolistic grip on launches. SpaceX has been frustrated with the lengthy certification process as it moves toward eventually competing with ULA. Under the newly reached agreement, the Air Force will "work collaboratively with SpaceX to complete the certification process in an efficient and expedient manner" so the company probably won't be waiting much longer to fight for those same contracts to launch military and spy satellites.

The Air Force also aims to expand "the number of competitive opportunities for launch services under the EELV program while honoring existing contractual obligations," so it sounds like UAV will enjoy its current standing for a while longer. But eventually, SpaceX will have its fair shot at landing the same contracts. "Going forward, the Air Force will conduct competitions consistent with the emergence of multiple certified providers," the company said in a press release.