Johns Hopkins University, Tanner Research and Moog have received research contracts from the U.S. Air Force to study potential engines intended to power United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket, Space News reported Tuesday.
Mike Gruss writes the move is part of a larger plan to replace the Russian-built RD-180 engine with a U.S.-made rocket engine for national security satellite launch missions.
The Air Force expects the rocket propulsion technology research effort to complete in two years, according to the report.
The service awarded $902,000 to Tanner Research, $935,000 to Johns Hopkins University and $728,000 to Moog, Space News reports.
Gruss writes the study will make use of new materials and additive manufacturing in order to reduce the cost of propulsion components and subsystems.