by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 22, 2014
A Senate panel set aside $100 million Thursday to develop a US rocket engine as an alternative to Russian equipment currently used to launch military satellites into orbit.
Amid broader disputes with President Vladimir Putin over Kremlin aggression in neighboring Ukraine, US lawmakers have considered ways to break from Russian rocket dependence, including blocking US firms from purchasing Russian-made engines and developing a new American-made engine.
"Mr Putin's Russia is giving us some problems," said Senator Bill Nelson, who flew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986.
"So we put $100 million in the defense bill to develop a state-of-the-art rocket engine to make sure that we have assured access to space for our astronauts as well as our military space payloads."
The bill was easily approved by the Armed Services Committee and now goes to a vote in the full Senate.
The House of Representatives passed its own defense bill, which also contains provisions aimed at reducing dependence on Russian delivery systems.
The two bills would need to be reconciled before becoming law.
The Pentagon currently depends on Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines to carry satellites into orbit. But US-Russia tensions threaten to spill into the space realm, where peaceful cooperation has ruled for decades.
Last month, amid high tensions over ex-Soviet Ukraine, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin lashed out at US sanctions aimed at high-tech exports to Russia, warning that the move could endanger American astronauts at the International Space Station.
Rogozin signaled Moscow could prohibit the US from using RD-180s to launch Pentagon satellites, a move experts said could ground the US Defense Department Atlas V rocket for two to three years.
The Senate plan envisions a new US engine built within five years, Nelson said.
The world's astronauts have relied on Russian rockets for transport to the orbiting outpost ever since the retirement of the US space shuttle in 2011.
Station at NASA
Station and More at Roscosmos
S.P. Korolev RSC Energia
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Station News at Space-Travel.Com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|