Gen. John Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, said the branch still needs to work out the details of a plan to develop a rocket engine to replace the Russian-made RD-180, Defense News reported Friday.
Aaron Mehta writes Hyten pointed out language in the 2015 defense authorization bill that would require the Pentagon to find a domestically-produced engine by fiscal 2019.
“So with that clear intent, assuming appropriations follow, we have a lot of work to do to figure out how to work the future of our launch enterprise,” he told audience at a recent Air Force Association forum.
Hyten also told reporters Friday the branch is considering certifying SpaceX to provide military satellite launch services and could issue a decision before the end of the year.
SpaceX wants to compete with United Launch Alliance in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.