Big bad Russian bully’s (that menace Putin and his hackers ) have been forcing weak little America to spend $150 million on RD-180 Rockets to power US Defence Satellites since 2006 . Russia promised they have not ever engineered any sort of remote access back door into them or devised a method to capture or transmit data . Honest Mr , hand on heart 🤔——Read more
The Pentagon’s reliance on Russian rocket engines will be at the center of a debate this week in the Senate when lawmakers take up a bill to authorize the 2017 U.S. defense budget. Senator John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is proposing to phase out America’s reliance on the Russian rocket engines.
The contractor that performs the space launches for the U.S. government, United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, says the Russian rockets are cheaper than the American alternatives. Two senators from states where these defense contractors employ many people — Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, and Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois — favor an amendment that would let the U.S. buy twice as many Russian engines as McCain favors. That would allow for more launches, and more related work in those two states.
In a telephone interview, McCain was blunt about this amendment. “If they are able to prevent us from moving off these Russian-built rocket engines, it’s corruption,” he said. “It’s not an accident that the senators from Alabama and Illinois are the ones pushing for this amendment.”
Of course, employment in those states is not the only case for buying more engines and launching more rockets. Shelby has argued in particular that the Russian rocket engines used by the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture have performed flawlessly, whereas some of the alternatives are untested.
Even still the Russian rocket engine business is murky. A 2014 investigation by Reuters found that a small five-person company based in Florida stood to make nearly $100 million from padding the cost of the Russian RD-180 rocket engines it then resold to United Launch Alliance.
How we got here is instructive. In 1996, President Bill Clinton authorized the use of Russian rockets for commercial space launches and later for more sensitive national security missions. But at the time, this policy was supposed to be a stopgap measure. Initially, the Pentagon had planned to exclusively use American rocket engines for space launches by 2000. Over time though, that deadline was pushed back because the cost of making engines in the U.S. is significantly greater. The latest deadline for U.S. rocket engine independence is 2020, and some Pentagon officials now say even that may be too ambitious.
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