Congress applies pressure to ULA and the Air Force

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Two congressional committees are holding up approval of a budget revision for the Air Force’s launch program because of concerns about cost overruns and the program’s dependency on a Russian rocket engine.

Such requests must be approved by each of the four congressional defense committees, and so far, the EELV proposal has won the support of only two. The Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee and the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee have green-lighted the plan, while the House and Senate Armed Services committees have deferred approval, according to budget documents dated July 25 and July 31, obtained by Defense News.

[The Senate Armed Services Committee] (SASC) asked the Air Force to draw up a plan, by Sept. 30, “that leads to the production of a liquid rocket engine by 2019,” according to one of the documents, sent to Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord by SASC Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich.

Meanwhile, others legislators are questioning the program’s cost overruns. Though only hinted at in the article, this hold up is also related to SpaceX’s demand that the bidding for Air Force launches be opened up to competition.


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