Report: Moscow bars US from using Russian rocket engines

 

Russia announced Tuesday that Moscow would bar the U.S. from using Russian-made rocket engines to launch military satellites in addition to other punitive measures in retaliation for American sanctions.

"We are very concerned about continuing to develop high-tech projects with such an unreliable partner as the United States, which politicizes everything," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

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Rogozin also said that Moscow would reject a U.S. request to continue using the International Space Station for four years beyond 2020, and would suspend the operation of GPS satellite navigation sites on its territory from June.

The moves were in response to U.S. sanctions on the export of high-tech equipment that could be used by Russia’s military amid the Ukraine crisis. Rogozin called the export ban "out of place and inappropriate." 

The U.S. has a five-year contract with United Launch Alliance, which manufactures and launches rockets with Russian-made engines to carry satellites and into space and conduct other sensitive national security missions.

"We are ready to deliver these engines but on one condition that they will not be used to launch military satellites," Rogozin insisted. 

He also suggested Russia could continue using the space station without U.S. cooperation. Russia helps ferry U.S. astronauts to the facility.

The U.S. maintains a two-year stockpile of the rockets, so there would be no immediate effect from the ban, but producing an alternative vehickle would take about five years. 

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers have pushed to end reliance on Russia for engines and space transportation.

Earlier this month, the House Armed Services Committee passed a defense authorization bill that would put money towards developing an alternative to Russian-made rocket engines by 2019.