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Obama Admin. Fights to Buy Russian Rocket Engines, Despite Own Executive Order

The Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket sits in SpaceX's hangar in Cape Canaveral, Florida, days before launch. Photo Courtesy SpaceX

Despite the Obama administration's strict executive order to economically sanction Russian oligarchs and government officials from benefiting from Western businesses, the administration won an appeal to allow Lockheed Martin and Boeing to purchase Russian rocket engines for the U.S. space program.

SpaceX, a private space launch company, had filed suit in federal court claiming that Lockheed and Boeing's purchase of the rockets violated the administration's own executive order. The lawsuit also alleged that the government kept the rocket company from bidding on the contract.

The court, which had originally placed an injunction on the purchase of the rockets, last week sided with the administration. The court allowed the two defense companies to purchase the Russian RD-180 rocket engines used for launching of U.S. satellites into space.

The Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket sits in SpaceX's hangar in Cape Canaveral, Florida, days before launch. Photo Courtesy SpaceX  The Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket sits in SpaceX's hangar in Cape Canaveral, Florida, days before launch. (Image source: SpaceX)

According to the technology website arsTechnica, the "injunction was put in place to give the court time to examine whether or not buying those engines contravened" President Obama's last executive order, meant to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his actions in eastern Ukraine.

The court based its decision mainly on several letters of petition written by the State, Commerce and Treasury departments on behalf of the administration's filing to lift the injunction, according to the website.

The courts still haven't addressed the claims that SpaceX was cut from the bidding process.

Read more about the Russian rocket engine purchase here.

Follow Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter

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