ULA email leak: internal emails allege smear campaign against SpaceX and Elon Musk

Six internal emails, allegedly involving correspondence between a union lobbyist and a senior official of American spacecraft launch service provider United Launch Alliance (ULA), have been leaked on a popular hacker forum. 

In the email exchanges, ULA vice president Robbie Sabathier and Hasan Solomon, a lobbyist at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, appear to criticize the leadership of NASA as "incompetent and unpredictable" and speculate about a conspiracy theory involving Elon Musk and former US President Donal Trump.

(Original post of the leak on an underground hacker forum)

In one of the leaked emails, allegedly sent days after SpaceX won the bid to build a Human Landing System for NASA, Sabathier claims that the space agency, staffed by Donald Trump’s political appointees, aims to ”eliminate competition to award billions to Trump supporters, like Elon Musk.” 

Subsequently, Sabathier goes on to lament the fact that large taxpayer investments are being “thrown away due to the cozy relationship established by Trump political hacks throughout NASA” while “creating a procurement environment that penalizes firms with union labor.”

In other emails from April and May, Sabathier and Solomon appear to strategize a White House lobbying push against SpaceX, requesting White House officials to retain ULA CEO Tory Bruno’s position on the National Space Council’s User Advisory Group.

“Hasan, protect your source:” a 3,000-word conspiracy document

Apart from the six ULA emails, the leaked ZIP archive also contains a 3,000-word conspiracy manifesto titled “Elon Musk: Friend to China, Enemy of Democracy,” allegedly written by Solomon’s unknown “source.”

The manifesto itself claims that Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and the Chinese Communist Party are involved in a plot to advance China’s global interests, undermine democracy, and erode workers’ rights in the US.

(Excerpt from the leaked document file titled ‘Elon Musk_Bad for Democracy (002).docx’)

In a response to Ars Technica’s request for comment about the leak, ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said that the company “will not comment at this time,” adding that ULA is taking the alleged cyber incident seriously. 

“While we are continuing to thoroughly investigate, we have no evidence to suggest any ULA accounts or systems have been breached.”

Jessica Rye, ULA spokeswoman

A developing disinformation campaign?

Judging from the origin, timing, and content of the emails, there is a possibility that the leak might be part of a larger campaign targeting the reputations of ULA and/or SpaceX. 

While there have been no subsequent leaks at the time of writing, CyberNews will continue to monitor the situation and update the story as it unfolds.

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