Six internal emails were leaked this week that share statements from United Launch Alliance Vice President Robbie Sabathier to a lobbyist about NASA’s “incompetent” leaders and favoritism towards SpaceX.
The emails leaked from the ULA employee also contain wild speculation that contracts awarded to SpaceX by NASA were tied to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s inferred support for former President Trump.
The statements go on to claim that NASA under the leadership of the previous administration favored companies that do not support unions.
“NASA HQ’s A-Suite leadership is currently incompetent and unpredictable”
“Large NASA taxpayer investments are being thrown away due to the cozy relationship established by Trump political hacks throughout NASA”Robbie Sabathier, Vice President of Government Operations and Strategic Communications
The recipient of the leaked emails, Hasan Solomon, who is a lobbyist for a large defense and aerospace union, agreed to raise these concerns with their contacts at a White House meeting in April. The timing of the leaked emails occurred around the same time Congress confirmed Bill Nelson as the new NASA Administrator and the selection of SpaceX’s Starship as NASA’s Artemis lunar lander.
In response for a comment from Ars Technica, ULA declined to comment on the emails, but stated they are investigating the matter. They also claimed to “have no evidence to suggest any ULA accounts or systems have been breached.”
SpaceX has hurt the company that once held a monopoly on government launch contracts. ULA also lost to SpaceX in the Human Landing System contract as they were a member of Dynetics’ team. ULA plans to bring a new launcher online that should be able to compete with SpaceX, but it has been delayed due to late engines from Blue Origin, who is leading a lawsuit against NASA over the HLS contract.
While Musk has been relatively open about his dislike of ULA’s business practices, this is the first time we’ve seen any sort of attacks from the other side, if confirmed real. This puts a dark light on the company whose beloved CEO has been a champion of spaceflight cooperation between companies and their fans.
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