Congress places additional limits on Russian rocket engine use

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Bad news for ULA and the Atlas 5: A defense bill approved by the Congressional negotiators has placed further limits on the number of Russian rocket engines ULA can use in future Atlas 5 government launches.

The bill, which still faces an Obama veto, only allows ULA to use 9 more Russian engines. The company however says it needs to have at least 18 available to keep its ability to launch government payloads while it develops its new Vulcan rocket.

Read the whole article. The political complexity of this whole situation does not bode well for ULA or its Vulcan rocket. Too many players with too many conflicting goals appear to make it difficult for the company to push the development forward efficiently.

One comment

  • Tom Billings

    Not a complex signal from Congress at all:

    1.) You *will* be handing out money as we see fit!

    2.) You *will* be handing out money in a way that benefits the right committee members!

    3.) You *won’t* be slipping the leash of dependency and subordination!

    Here, ULA has a bitter choice to make. They must forgo 9 government launches, or lose any future that allows them to be competitive with SpaceX and eventually Blue Origin and others in the much larger future commercial market.

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