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The Political Debate on Phasing out Russian Rocket Engines

The negotiations on 2018 defense policy bill have been concluded by House and Senate. But, the political battle has raised the key question that is, Will US Congress limit the options available to the Air Force to phase out Russian engines from U.S. military space launch vehicles? The political battle over the next-generation evolved expendable launch vehicle was initiated about 3 years ago when deadline was set for the Air Force to stop funding the Russian RD-180 heavy rocket engine by Congress.

People are waiting to see the final language in the National Defense Authorization Act. If it is adopted, would create a hurdle in the way forward to end U.S. dependence on Russian engines. If the acquisition strategy is carried out it would be able to phase out the RD-180 by 2022. The biggest aim is to find an option to the Atlas 5 rocket that uses the RD-180. There is a disagreement between the Air Force and House Armed Services’ strategic forces subcommittee over the way of doing that.

It is said that the Air Force would prefer designing a new vehicle, whereas; House Armed Services’ strategic forces subcommittee likes to do a complete replacement of the main stage propulsion system. President Donald Trump has administrated objections to Section 1615 of the Act by saying that it would restrict development of new space launch systems. He is in favour of modifications to the rocket engines to existing launch vehicles.


By- Anita Aishvarya

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