Pentagon says cannot replace Russian space rocket engines

Pentagon says cannot replace Russian space rocket engines
Fri May 9, 2014 11:40:28

The Pentagon cannot find a replacement for the Russian rocket engines it buys anytime soon, a senior official has revealed.

The import of the engines has for now been banned via a court order lobbied by SpaceX and based on sanctions against Russia.

Washington may soon find it problematic to continue launching its military satellites, as a long-time supply connection between Russian and US defense companies has been halted and is being reviewed – all because of sanctions against Moscow in connection with the Ukrainian crisis.

Earlier ordered by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the review of US Air Force dependence on the Russian-made RD-180 engine, used in American Atlas V rockets, has not yielded any solutions.

“We don’t have a great solution. We haven’t made any decisions yet,” Frank Kendall, the US undersecretary of defense for acquisition, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg in a Thursday article. The defense official spoke to the outlet after testifying before a Senate committee on the matter on Wednesday.

United Launch Alliance LLC, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and Boeing Co. (BA), has been purchasing RD-180 rocket engines from joint Russian-American enterprise RD-Amross LLC since 1997. The engines in question have been produced at a plant of NPO Energomash near Moscow, and over 40 of them were delivered between 1997-2007 alone.

The US has used RD-180 engines to power its Atlas III and Atlas V rockets, which mostly deliver commercial or military communications satellites, as well as reconnaissance and navigation satellites.


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