Congress demands American rocket engines for military launches


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In a letter written by a bi-partisan group of California legislators, Congress is pressuring the Air Force to replace the Russian engines on its Atlas rocket, and do to it competitively.

“While it is important that we invest in new technology, the problem of Russian reliance calls for an immediate solution,” states the Sept. 22 letter, which was signed by 32 of California’s 53 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. … In the letter, the House members said they are “troubled by the Department’s willingness to continue sourcing this engine from the Russian government, apparently in the hope that the situation with Russia does not deteriorate further, and that Russia chooses to continue supporting U.S. military launches — while it ignores American sources of engine technology. “We strongly encourage you to recognize that the United States — and specifically, California — today produces technology that exceeds any capability offered by Russian systems,” the letter said. “It is time for the Department to look to these existing U.S. engine manufacturers and launch vehicle providers.”

This letter suggests to me that SpaceX has won its battle with the Air Force and is going to get some launch contracts. It also suggests that ULA and Blue Origin will likely be able to get the funding from Congress to finance the design and construction of the replacement engine they have jointly proposed.

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2 comments

  • geoffc

    Blue Origin is not proposing a replacement engine for Atlas V. They are offering an engine for Atlas VI. Unless you count changing the engine, changing the entire first stage tankage, probably a new interstage, as being the same booster. :)

    Good news all around. Let Blue Origin (BE-4) and Aeroject (AR-1) compete. That would be great.

  • Kelly Starks

    >..This letter suggests to me that SpaceX has won its battle with the Air Force and is going to get some launch contracts…

    How? And why is this more significant then the routine Congressmen writing letters insisting a product of their voters are the best answer for something the Gov is thinking of spending money.

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