United Launch Alliance Chairman Craig Cooning and CEO Tory Bruno believe the congressional ban on RD-180 engines hurts the business case for further Boeing and Lockheed Martin investment on rocket development, SpaceNews reported Friday.
Warren Ferster writes that the ULA executives have indicated the need for 14 of the Russia-made engines to participate in competitions under the U.S. Air Force‘s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
While the 2016 defense authorization bill eases the ban imposed in the 2015 legislation, the report said the Senate’s version allows ULA to use only nine RD-180 engines.
Ferster reports that the ULA board, which is composed of Boeing and Lockheed executives, has so far committed to only quarterly funding for the development of the Vulcan rocket.
“When I talked about how important it was for the country to introduce the next generation of engine technology “” it could be either [Aerojet Rocketdyne‘s] AR1 or [Blue Origin‘s] BE-4 “” it is essential for Congress to allow us to cross that valley until the new engine is ready or it“™s not going to happen,” Bruno said in a recent event.
Colin Clark also reports on Breaking Defense that the Air Force can potentially recommend a waiver to allow ULA to use the needed RD-180s based on an existing law on assured access to space, as the service seeks a new rocket to replace Atlas V for launching national security payloads.