ULA, RD Amross Asks Court to Dismiss Orbital Lawsuit

RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)
RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)

ULA and RD Amross LLC have asked the court to dismiss a $1.5 billion lawsuit filed by Orbital Sciences Corporation due to a lack of legal standing, the Denver Business Journal reports.

Orbital wants RD Amross to supply it with Russian RD-180 engines for its new Antares rocket. The company has refused, saying it has an exclusive agreement with ULA to supply these engines for the Atlas V rocket.

Orbital has filed a lawsuit and a complaint alleging restraint of trade with the Federal Trade Commission.

[Orbital] claims ULA pressured RD Amross into extending their exclusivity arrangement over the RD-180s after Orbital expressed interest in buying 20 of them for use after 2016.

The RD Amross LLC and ULA responded this month, in requests for the lawsuit’s dismissal, that Orbital Sciences doesn’t have standing to claim antitrust violations because RD Amross doesn’t have the ability to actually sell the RD-180 rocket motors to Orbital. Nor can Orbital claim lost business on which to base damages, the RD Amross response said.

“Nowhere in its complaint does Orbital allege that it has lost any business — or even been prevented from competing for any contracts — as a result of the supply contract” between ULA and RD Amross for the RD-180 engines, the complaint concludes.

Orbital currently uses AJ-26 engines, which are refurbished version of Soviet-era NK-33 engines built for that nation’s manned lunar program in the 1970s. There is a limited supply of NK-33s, requiring Orbital to pay the Russian supplier to reopen the assembly line or to find another engine for the Antares.

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