Lawmakers seek to end reliance on Russia for rocket engines

 

Lawmakers in the House are pushing to end America’s reliance on Russian-made rocket engines for space launches.

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The House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee’s markup of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, released on Tuesday, calls for spending at least $220 million over the next five years to develop an alternative engine that isn’t Russian-made.

“We proposed to cease our reliance on the Russian engine by developing a new engine. ... We want to be off the Russian engine by 2019,” said an Armed Services Committee staff member.

The markup calls for keeping the Air Force’s current contract for the Russian engines. The Armed Services staffer said the government could be sued if that deal is broken.  

The legislation would create a new bidding process for developing the engines, with any company certified to launch a national security payload eligible to compete for the contract. 

“It's a big move, it’s something that we’ve talked about,” the staffer said. "We are not going to let ourselves be reliant on Russian engines for national security space." 

The subcommittee meets to amend its markup on Wednesday, which would later be incorporated into the full committee’s markup of the defense bill on May 7. 

The markup also calls for strengthening oversight of U.S.-Russia missile defense cooperation, continuing support for the missile defense plan announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2013, protecting specific missile defense technologies and continuing support for missile defense cooperation with Israel.

It also emphasizes that a fully developed multi-faceted space security and defense program is needed to deter and defeat any adversaries’ act of space aggression and requires a review of the ability to deter and defeat space aggression. 

The full text can be found here