The House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to a defense policy bill that would allow the Defense Department to buy up to 18 Russian-built RD-180 engines for use on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, Space News reported Thursday.
Mike Gruss writes Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) introduced the amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act hours before the committee voted 60-2 Thursday to advance the bill to the full House.
According to Space News, the U.S. Air Force has been calling on Congress to permit ULA to import approximately 18 RD-180 engines in order to facilitate competition for launch contracts until ULA’s Vulcan rocket is certified and ready to send payloads into space by 2022.
Colin Clark also reported for Breaking Defense that Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington), a ranking member of HASC, introduced an amendment to the NDAA that would authorize $100 million in funds to research and develop an upper stage, launch vehicle, strap-on motor and other launch system components.
Such an amendment seeks to ease a plan by HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), chairman of the HASC strategic forces subcommittee, to limit R&D funds to rocket engines, Clark writes.