Spaceflight Insider

Elon Musk suggests former USAF officer got Aerojet Rocketdyne position for sole source contract with ULA

SpaceX's Founder and CEO, Elon Musk, has posted some tweets which question the ethics involved behind the hiring of a former Air Force official. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / SpaceFlight Insider

On Sunday, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), a non-profit entity founded in 1991 to promote “ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action,” which is best known for exposing the Darleen Druyon / Air Force / Boeing tanker scandal in 2003, published an article questioning the hiring of a former Air Force procurement official, Roger “Scott” Correll, by Aerojet Rocketdyne. The point man for one rocket manufacturer recently raised this issue in a flurry of tweets.

According to the NLPC article, “[o]ne of [Correll’s] last official acts before his “retirement” in January was to oversee a deal with . . . . United Launch Alliance (ULA) for . . . . 36 future launches.” Aerojet Rocketdyne is one of the primary supplier of rocket engines to ULA.

Musk has called various aspects of ULA's arrangement with the U.S. Air Force into question. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Musk has called various aspects of ULA’s arrangement with the U.S. Air Force into question. Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Space Exploration Technologies, Corporation (SpaceX) recently filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Air Force’s sole-sourcing of launches with ULA, seeking to reopen the contract for competitive bidding.

On Thursday night, Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, took to Twitter (@elonmusk) suggesting that Correll sought a job with SpaceX, was rejected, and then took a job with Aerojet Rocketdyne in exchange for the sole-source contract between the Air Force and ULA.

Musk’s Thursday night tweets are as follows:

Air Force official awards $10B+ contract uncompeted & then takes lucrative job w funds recipient” (citing the NLPC article)

“V likely that AF official Correll was told by ULA/Rocketdyne that a rich VP job was his if he gave them a sole source contract”

“Reason I believe this is likely is that Correll first tried to work at SpaceX, but we turned him down. Our competitor, it seems, did not.”

“Either way, this case certainly deserves close examination by the DOD Inspector General per @SenJohnMcCain’s request” (citing an April 25, 2014, press release by Senator John McCain (R-AZ))

Musks tweets trail a contentious back-and-forth which has gone on since this past March when Musk claimed his company had met the U.S. Air Force’s 3 launch requirement and that his firm could handle all of the U.S. Air Force’s launches. Musk went on to sue the Air Force over the issue of the block purchase of 36 booster cores, especially those using the Russian-built RD-180. SpaceX’s lawsuit gained some initial traction and was awarded an injunction on April 30 by Judge Susan G. Braden of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. By May 9, the injunction had been lifted by the same judge.

 

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Scott earned both a Bachelor's Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware. Scott attended the STS - 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.

Reader Comments

Yes, this happens a lot. Senior officers, just before retirement, curry favor with private industry by exchanging contracts in return for financial rewards or some other pecuniary advantage. It’s pure corruption, since the officer is essentially trading US tax dollars for personal gain. It should be discovered and harshly punished every time it happens, but the authority that goes with their rank serves as a shield against Fraud-Waste-Abuse criminal charges.

In fact, where such corruption can be construed as treason under Article 99 of the UCMJ, the officer should be tried for a capital crime and face the death penalty if convicted.

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