The USA is considering an opportunity to ban further purchases of Russian RD-180 engines for Atlas 5 rockets. This is envisaged in the bill for appropriations for military purposes for 2015 financial year.
The document that the Senate and the House of Representatives of the US Congress agreed on Tuesday contains an amendment by Republican Senator John McCain, according to which US companies will not be able to conclude new contracts to purchase RD-180 engines from Russia in connection with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, TASS reports.
The engines manufactured by NPO Energomash have long been used by consortium United Launch Alliance (ULA), established by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The engines are used for the first stage of Atlas 5 rocket. The carrier rocket is used to launch not only civil, but also military satellites of the Pentagon. US lawmakers concluded that national security interests of the United States became dependent on Russian technologies.
Noteworthy, the US Congress decided that the engines that were purchased prior to Russia's reunification with the Crimea can be used. Everything that was bought afterwards, is subject to ban. The document also provides for the allocation of 220 million US dollars for the development of a US rocket engine that will replace the Russian RD-180.
The Pentagon and ULA that concluded a multi-billion-dollar contract with the Defense Department of the United States are openly opposed to McCain's amendment, fearing that it may affect the stable launch of US military satellites into orbit. Specialists doubt that the quantity of available RD-180 engines would be enough to ensure the launches of the necessary amount of Atlas-5 carriers.