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SpaceX has won an injunction from a federal judge, preventing ULA from buying any further Russian engines.
Federal Claims Court Judge Susan Braden said her preliminary injunction was warranted because of the possibility that United Launch Alliance’s purchase of Russian-made engines might run afoul of the sanctions. NBC News’ past coverage of the issue was cited in Braden’s ruling.
Wednesday’s injunction prohibits any future purchases or payments by the Air Force or United Launch Alliance to NPO Energomash, unless and until the Treasury Department or the Commerce Department determines that the deal doesn’t run counter to the U.S. sanctions against Russian officials. Braden stressed that her ruling does not affect previous payments to the Russians, or purchase orders that have already been placed. United Launch Alliance says it already has some of the engines on hand.
This injunction is not directed specifically at the Air Force’s bulk buy from ULA, nor does it address the cartel-like nature of the ULA monopoly for Air Force launches that SpaceX is challenging. However, it does put a serious crimp, if temporary, on the use of Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 5 rocket, which depends on the engine for all its launches. Though the company has engines in stock, they will quickly run out with no way to immediately replace them.