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SpaceX Injunction Dissolved 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the failure-to-launch dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Two weeks ago, SpaceX filed suit against the U.S. Air Force in an attempt to enforce competition for rocket purchases. They argued it was a bad idea to blindly shovel money into Russia's coffers for rides to space, and said there was no way for other rocket manufacturers to get a foot in the door. Last week, it looked like they were getting traction — an injunction was granted, temporarily halting the Air Force's process of buying rockets. Unfortunately for SpaceX, that injunction has now been dissolved. At the heart of the suit was Executive Order 13,661, which blocks the transfer of wealth to people in the Russian Federation who are related to the situation in the Ukraine. SpaceX said that since Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was the head of their space agency, payments to the agency were effectively payments to him. The U.S. departments of Commerce, State, and the Treasury all sent letters to the court saying this was not the case, and the court agreed. Here's the final ruling."
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SpaceX Injunction Dissolved

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  • Once Again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The Obama Administration Screws Over America.

    • Re:Once Again (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tysonedwards (969693) on Friday May 09, 2014 @02:39PM (#46961495)
      The argument was inherently flawed.
      By the same argument, are income tax payments "effectively payments" to John Koskinen, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        You clearly have no understanding of how the Russian Mobster Government works.

        Do you SERIOUSLY believe that Putin and his cronies are not getting a cut of the action?

        • Re:Once Again (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Friday May 09, 2014 @04:24PM (#46962295)

          That's not really the courts' decision to make, though. Congress authorized the President to freeze transfers to certain individuals. The President designated some of them here. Therefore the law prohibits transferring money to these specific individuals. It does not ban transferring money to the government of Russia, only to some of its specific politicians, in their individual capacity.

          Now it's possible that Russia is so corrupt that there's no meaningful difference between Putin's money and the government's money. But if Congress and/or the President believe that and want to prohibit the transfer of money to Russia as a whole, not only to certain Russian individuals, they need to make that decision and enact that law.

          • Re:Once Again (Score:4, Interesting)

            by stox (131684) on Friday May 09, 2014 @04:58PM (#46962571) Homepage

            "Now it's possible that Russia is so corrupt that there's no meaningful difference between Putin's money and the government's money."

            How else do you think Putin attained a net worth of $70B?

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Kickbacks, insider trading, extortion. There's lots of ways to attain wealth besides embezzlement.

              • by tragedy (27079)

                Kickbacks, insider trading, extortion. There's lots of ways to attain wealth besides embezzlement.

                A kickback is taking money that you control, but don't own, paying it out to a third party, who funnels some of it back to you. So that is a form of embezzlement.

            • by Dahamma (304068)

              Actually, it's pretty clear how he did it. He helped privatize all of the national industries in exchange for stock from the cronies he gave the industries to. It would basically be like Obama saying "hey, Warren Buffet, buddy - take the US Forest Service and do whatever you want with it - but I get 20% of the profits!"

              Ironically, it was a display of the purest form of the capitalism he pretends to protest - fairly close to the way the 19th century railroad and oil robber barons made their fortunes in th

      • by jafac (1449)

        It was just a political stunt to try to appeal to nationalist sentiment. Probably ill-considered, and we would not have seen it if there weren't presently political tensions. Whether Musk won or not, he got some publicity out of this.

        • We could use some more "nationalist sentiment" from the corporations in the US. "nationalist sentiment" can help pressure corporations to make decisions that benefit both the US work force and consumers first with everybody else coming in a distant 2nd.

      • Well, I would say SpaceX has a good point nonetheless. See this:

        http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

        Basically the federal government deliberately limits its choices in contractors, and then spends a ton of money and doesn't get good results. (Meanwhile a lot of the anti-capitalist types falsely use this as an argument for why the government is more efficient than the private sector.)

    • the launches are in the bank. trust us. they said they'll send the negatives any day now...

  • the blocks on russian money is just for show. Does everyone forget the conversation obama and putin had? Something along the lines of wait until after the election and ill have more leeway?? Im not saying that invading ukrane is what they were talking about but, im saying we dont know what he was talking about

    Obama and putin are buddy buddy, anything america is doing against russia right now is only to keep the american people happy, its not to actually get results
    • Re:didnt you know? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Friday May 09, 2014 @04:48PM (#46962485) Homepage

      Obama and putin are buddy buddy

      Some times I wish this were true, but it is not. I think, Obama is genuinely and sincerely appalled by Putin's aggression against Ukraine and other countries. He is just caught completely by surprise — Obama is a master of class warfare rhetoric, which helps him domestically, but he is learning foreign relations as well as simple history of the world on the job.

      This is not me — a racist RethugliKKKan saying it — sympathetic newspapers [nytimes.com] in 2008 agreed, that it is Joe Biden, who brings foreign policy heft to the ticket [go.com]:

      Mr. Biden is among the best-informed lawmakers on international affairs, a gap in Mr. Obama’s résumé.

      I'd say, things could've been a lot worse under an Administration, where a jovial lunatic is the primary fount of foreign policy expertise. Or, maybe, they are just as bad as they could get...

      Whereas Putin is an expert, Obama is a neophite — an out-of-his-league amateur. While Putin can order his army into Ukraine at any moment — they already have "PEACEKEERS" painted on their helmets and vehicles — Obama can't even muster enough determination to send body-armor to Ukrainian military.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        but he is learning foreign relations as well as simple history of the world on the job.

        Situation normal. See also the President of the day laughing at the joke of "Uncle Joe" Stalin about mass killings of his own civilians while Churchill went pale in horror. There is a structural disconnection between Presidents and people with a clue - for example Kissenger was the only official conduit for intelligence information to Nixon which resulted in some serious misconceptions about the Vietnam war that could

        • by mi (197448)

          There is a structural disconnection between Presidents and people with a clue

          There is clueless and then there is Obama-clueless — in a class all his own. Even Sarah Palin was able to foresee Putin's attack on Ukraine as next after his invasion into Georgia [independent.co.uk].

          It may not be as hard as picking a side in Syria but it's not a black and white choice either.

          It is "black-and-white". The only possible negative is angering Russia. That's all.

          Backing Saddam against Iran was a pretty stupid mistake

          Saddam Hussein

          • by dbIII (701233)
            Didn't you notice incidents such as overt poisioning of oppenents happening in Ukrane politics? It's hard to pick the "good guys" when things have got that medieval.
            • by mi (197448)

              Didn't you notice incidents such as overt poisioning of oppenents happening in Ukrane politics?

              Yep, and the victim — Victor Yuschenko [wikipedia.org] — was the guy, who dared to run against Putin's choice for Ukraine's President. To you the names like "Yanukovich" and "Yuschenko" may appear similar, but a foreign policy expert advising the leader of the free world must be able to keep up.

              It's hard to pick the "good guys" when things have got that medieval.

              On the contrary, it is very easy — if Putin-TV t

    • by Arker (91948)

      "anything america is doing against russia right now is only to keep the american people happy, its not to actually get results"

      Except that the polls have been saying for a couple years now that the majority of us actually want the government to settle down and be less interventionist overseas. See these [antiwar.com] recent results for instance. Commissar Nulands project has nothing to do with making Americans happy.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        Exactly, The correct response to russia invading another country is more than giving them a stern talking to, but america is tired of wars, so obama is keeping us happy while doing the wrong thing on the world stage. I mean hey, hitler ONLY wanted poland right?
    • by dbIII (701233)
      They are not going to do a Panama on Ukraine (comparisons hurt don't they?). Putin is getting everything he wants without a full invasion. Ukraine is being turned into a satellite state that will do as it is told on issues Putin considers important instead of a micromanaged occupied territory.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Elon should start launching spy sats for Russia and China!

  • "The U.S. departments of Commerce, State, and the Treasury" Isn't this the same administration that is supposed to be supporting US business, and sanctioning Russia re: Ukraine? I really hope the media and less likely the people, bring light to this bullshit and get on SpaceX side.
    • For you see how the actual "capitalism" is really, really broken. Enjoy, it's not every day you can see the true masters of the world acting in daylight.
      • This isn't capitalism. Otherwise, the USAF would be buying the cheapest or the best - not stuck on one foreign vendor.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The RD-180 is incredibly superior to the merlin engine spacex has at this time. It could be airforce priority isn't cost efficiency but reliability and perhaps some other parameters at which merlin isn't competitive at this time.

          And same goes for the Atlas 5 launcher itself. It's a superior vehicle to Falcon 9 *at this time*. This can change fairly quickly but I guess upon reviewing current achievements and flexibility of Falcon 9 vs Atlas 5 Falcon 9 came up rather short.

          At some point this could change th

  • by photonic (584757) on Friday May 09, 2014 @02:39PM (#46961489)
    I don't think Elon expected to win that easy, but look how much publicity he got for filing a simple claim and getting a temporary injunction. He got to say a few times how they are 4x cheaper than the old guys, that might be remembered by some press and politicians the next time there is a big contract up for grabs.
    • Except that even if they are four times cheaper, it won't help them much if the bid will be for launchers with proven reliability. The military has probably more money to lose with they KH-47s (or whatever number they're using now) burning up than any civilian customer with their telco sats.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah and HP junk printers are 4x cheaper too, but have you seen the cost of the ink and the quality of the output?

      EVERY business selling for the first time to government on a newly privatised endeavour starts off "cheap". The first hit is always free. What is your point? Boeing was once nimble and efficient, too.

    • I don't think Elon expected to win that easy, but look how much publicity he got for filing a simple claim and getting a temporary injunction. He got to say a few times how they are 4x cheaper than the old guys, that might be remembered by some press and politicians the next time there is a big contract up for grabs.

      Huh? The goal of every politician is to spend the MOST money. Money is power.

    • I don't think Elon expected to win that easy, but look how much publicity he got for filing a simple claim and getting a temporary injunction.

      I'm looking but I'm not finding much.

      The truth is that stories like this rarely make the front page or survive a single 24 hour news cycle before they are shoved into the back of the fridge and more or less forgotten.

      • In the grand scheme of things the rocket engine procurement policies do not have much of an effect on the general population. After all there is only so much you can care about or worry about in a 24 hour period.

    • by k6mfw (1182893)

      look how much publicity he got for filing a simple claim and getting a temporary injunction.

      inspired someone to make this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Friday May 09, 2014 @02:40PM (#46961499)
    On one hand, i think that SpaceX should get a shot at competing here, but I don't think they should go about it through taking advantage of overreaching executive order.

    Kill 13661, let SpaceX bid. Then I'll be happy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe the US Government should stop issuing overreaching executive orders.

      • by T.E.D. (34228)

        Maybe the US Government should stop issuing overreaching executive orders.

        For that to happen, it would have to start producing laws again. All Congress produces right now is campaign events [nypost.com], and days off for themselves [huffingtonpost.com]. Passing a law that the POTUS supports might make him look good, and we can't have that. Passing a law that the POTUS doesn't support would require a 2/3 majority, which would require working with a lot of Democrats, who might also end up looking good, so we can't have that either.

        In the meantime, executive orders are the only way left to keep the government stag

    • but I don't think they should go about it through taking advantage of overreaching executive order.

      They didn't. SpaceX requested an injunction to freeze USAF contracting more launches to ULA. They didn't request an injunction on engine purchases from Russia.

      The judge decided to add that one herself.

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Friday May 09, 2014 @03:02PM (#46961707)

    SpaceX said that since Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was the head of their space agency, payments to the agency were effectively payments to him. The U.S. departments of Commerce, State, and the Treasury all sent letters to the court saying this was not the case, and the court agreed

    Please nobody get worked up arguing against this statement, because that's not really what their arguments were.

    The key phrase from the Judge's ruling is:

    These letters collectively explain that, “to the best of [the relevant Department’s] knowledge, purchases from and payments to NPO Energomash currently do not directly or indirectly contravene Executive Order 13,661.”

    However, that's not how I read the attached letters at all. The first three all effectively say, "Yes, if Rogozin controls Energomash, that looks like it would qualify, but only the Treasury Department can officially make that call."

    The Fourth is actually from the Treasury Department (so its the important one), and it essentially says "it looks like something that technically falls under the order. However, we have to officially say that an entity is blocked before it is, and we don't want to say that about Energomash right now." So basically they get to pick and chose each and every entity to be affected by the Executive Order, and this isn't (yet) one they've picked.

    That makes a certain amount of sense. Because all of this comes from an Executive Order, its really up to the "Executive" (the POTUS), and those under him, who or what gets blocked. If we'd like a general rule that can be applied broadly, that's what laws are for.

    • Yup, the letters all agree that if Rogozin controls NPO Energomash, payments must be blocked, but Treasury must "make an affirmative determination" that this is the case. Nothing compels them to actually make that affirmative determination.

      Yes, they know that NPO Energomash is owned and controlled by the Russian Government. And yes, they know that Rogozin is the head of their space agency. But you could show them a cancelled check from Treasury with Rogozin's signature on it, and they still wouldn't be c

      • by T.E.D. (34228)

        Well it more like that the "rules" set out in the EO are just a description of the goals of the EO, which Treasury uses as a guideline when they are deciding exactly which people and organizations will get their money blocked. However, its still Treasury deciding on a person-by-person and company-by-company basis who is getting blocked. If they feel like not blocking a specific company, and the POTUS (whose order they are following) is OK with that, that's currently their prerogative.

        Again, if we want an

  • by puddingebola (2036796) on Friday May 09, 2014 @03:17PM (#46961825) Journal
    Funny thing is, the way things work in Russia, payments to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin probably really are payments to Dmitry Rogozin.
  • by Bob_Who (926234) <Bob@@@who...net> on Friday May 09, 2014 @03:40PM (#46961987) Homepage Journal
    Conspicuous legal procedures and political gymnastics are part of the Corporate/Government - Lobby/Courts Eco-system. SpaceX must exercise their ability to influence courts' legal authority to be immediately responsive to their trade concerns. My point is that the injunction or its dissolution is not important, but the speed in which they accessed court authority is meaningful.

    When SpaceX lawyers make a legal assertion the US Court System prioritizes their concerns and responds immediately. Meanwhile, all other stuff on the court dockets languish in obscurity and red tape. If SpaceX has the legal/political clout to effect immediate response from the courts, then that is what I find most noteworthy. Whether or not their injunction is upheld is less important than their ability to get the government's (and our) undivided attention on the issue of their concerns. Its nice to have corporate clout, since corporations are now people. DemocracyX at work.
    • The best post on this thread yet.
      Well done.
    • My point is that the injunction or its dissolution is not important, but the speed in which they accessed court authority is meaningful.

      You request an injunction when speed is essential.

      An injunction is a court order requiring a person to do or cease doing a specific action. Temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions are temporary injunctions. They are issued early in a lawsuit to maintain the status quo by preventing a defendant from becoming insolvent or to stop the defendant from continuing his or her allegedly harmful actions. Choosing whether to grant temporary injunctive relief is a discretionary power of the court.

      There is a balancing test that courts typically employ in determining whether to issue an injunction. The defendant's 5th Amendment due process rights are weighed (heavily) against the possibility of the defendant becoming judgment-proof, and the immediacy of the harm allegedly done to the plaintiff (i.e., how badly does the plaintiff need the injunction). When it is possible, the defendant must always be put on notice of the injunction hearing, and the duration of the injunction is typically as temporary as possible. Additionally, in many jurisdictions, plaintiffs demanding an injunction are required to post a bond.

      Injunction [cornell.edu]

  • I read through the final ruling. Its not a ruling. its a sidestep that effectively undermines the executive orders of the president. Each government agency is basically saying that even though executive order 13661 requires them to in no way do any business or pay any money to the russians that they have decided even though Rogozin controls the manufacture of russian rockets that the assorted government agencies assert that they have to first investigate the company in question and they'll let the court kno

  • "After my election I have more flexibility." -- Obama to Medvedev [google.com]

  • If SpaceX does win the contract next time it's competed (which is likely, given how much NASA is helping them) I wonder how they'll react when some other upstart jumps in and wants their contract voided.
  • If US should not transfer wealth to anyone related to the situation in the Ukraine, then trade should be halted with Ukraine itself, Russia, but also Germany, and more generally EU, and even US. All that folks are at work in Ukraine right now.

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