Last week, the Pentagon sent a letter to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., an influential legislator when it comes to American space policy. Within the letter, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who is highly esteemed within the defense analytical community, stated that the Air Force lacked the flexibility to adopt a new rocket design based around a replacement for the controversial RussianRD-180 in the short term. Nor could the Air Force afford to use other rockets, presumably the Delta IV, as a replacement, given its fiscal constraint. He went on to say that unless the Congress authorized the additional purchase of RD-180 engines, the DoD’s space launch schedule could be pushed back up to two years, depriving the country of critical communications and presumably reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities. Ironically, the letter included a plaintive cry from the wilderness to save America’s rocket industry, presumably by purchasing Russian rocket engines.
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