Pentagon watchdog to review SpaceX launch certification

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SpaceX benefited greatly from the Air Force's certification awarded to the company in 2015, allowing it to take on military payloads. Apparently, the Air Force went ahead and certified SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket to carry military satellites after a bitter feud between Musk and the service.

In December, a SpaceX rocket carrying a U.S. military navigation satellite blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral, marking the space transportation company's first national security space mission for the United States. At the time SpaceX broke into the military launch program, ULA was the big cat on the street.

The Pentagon's inspector general said it will begin an evaluation of the Air Force's certification of SpaceX's primary launch vehicles, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, years after a legal fight involving a Boeing venture that led to a victory for the company founded by Elon Musk.

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What prompted the review is not revealed in the brief memo, which simply informs Wilson and two other Air Force officials that it will begin this month and asks them to appoint a point of contact familiar with the issues.

"We will perform the evaluation at the Space and Missile Systems Center, a subordinate unit of Air Force Space Command, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California", said the memo.

"This was a self-initiated project by the Office of Inspector General", Dwrena Allen, the spokesperson for the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General, told Defense News. Although SpaceX was not mentioned in the letter, the lawmakers suggested the company got a bad deal because, unlike its major competitors, it did not receive Air Force funding when a new round of "Launch Service Agreements" in October 2018.

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