Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pentagon Won't Waive Russian Rocket Engine Ban for ULA

Pentagon Won't Waive Russian Rocket Engine Ban for ULA: The Pentagon late last week refused to waive a law banning the use of Russian rocket engines for military satellite launches, rejecting a plea from United Launch Alliance (ULA).

ULA, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that provides spacecraft launch services to the US government, has threatened to skip an upcoming Air Force competition for satellite launches unless it gets some relief from the ban. ULA relies on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine to power its Atlas V rocket, although it also builds a Delta IV rocket powered by US company Aerojet Rocketdyne's RS-68 engine.

Elon Musk's SpaceX is the other potential competitor for the Air Force's GPS III Launch Services solicitation, part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. SpaceX has invested heavily over the past few years to develop its own Merlin engine to power its Falcon 9 rocket.

Proposals for GPS III Launch Services are due Nov. 16.