Almost a week after the U.S. Air Force announced that SpaceX would launch 40 percent of the military's national security missions between 2022 and 2026 and that ULA would launch 60 percent, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to blast ULA and voice his annoyance at the Air Force's decision to award the SpaceX competitor a larger contract.
“Because their rockets are not reusable, it will become obvious over time that ULA is a complete waste of taxpayer money,” Musk wrote.
Two space CEOs, worlds apart
Overall, the contracts are very lucrative for both SpaceX and ULA, who beat out challengers Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman, as the Pentagon aims to spend about $1 billion per year on launches between 2022 and 2026.
However, Musk, who is known for his Twitter provocations, couldn't help taking to Twitter to voice his disdain:
Efficiently reusable rockets are all that matter for making life multiplanetary & “space power”. Because their rockets are not reusable, it will become obvious over time that ULA is a complete waste of taxpayer money.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 13, 2020
ULA CEO Tory Bruno took a different — some would argue classier — tact, by simply congratulating SpaceX for winning their share of the contract.
I congratulate @SpaceX on their USAF NSS Phase 2 award— Tory Bruno (@torybruno) August 13, 2020
As CNBC reports, the Air Force has already awarded the first three missions under the contract, with SpaceX getting $316 million for one mission and ULA getting $337 million for two launches, all of which are due to go ahead in 2022.
To reuse, or not to reuse
ULA, which stands for United Launch Alliance, is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. ULA and SpaceX have both launched dozens of payloads for the military.
While ULA had a virtual monopoly until 2014, SpaceX has since emerged as a great competitor, which of course, recently launched astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time in almost a decade, using reusable Falcon 9 boosters and a reusable Dragon Crew capsule.
As per SpaceNews, ULA executives have said the company does intend to eventually launch reusable versions of its Vulcan rocket, though it is yet to set any kind of timeline for this goal.
What do you think? Is Musk right to criticize ULA for being slow to build reusable rockets, or is this a simple case of Musk throwing his toys out the pram for not landing a higher percentage of the Air Force contract?