Russian RD-180 rocket engines used for main stage of Atlas-V rocket. Credit: Energomash

Russian RD-180 rocket engines used for main stage of Atlas-V rocket.
Credit: Energomash

 

A recently released report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) looks at the issues regarding U.S. continued access to space for national security missions.

The CRS report — National Security Space Launch at a Crossroads was authored by Steven A. Hildreth, a specialist in U.S. and foreign national security programs.

This May 13, 2016 CRS document was made available thanks to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

Explains the report: “A combination of factors over the next several years, as a worst-case scenario, could leave the United States in a situation where some of its national security space payloads would not have a certified launcher available.”

A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off April 8, 2016, carrying a Dragon spacecraft to begin the CRS-8 mission delivering experiments and cargo to the International Space Station. Credits: NASA/Tony Gray & Mike Kerley

A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off April 8, 2016, carrying a Dragon spacecraft to begin the CRS-8 mission delivering experiments and cargo to the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA/Tony Gray & Mike Kerley

 

 

Undercurrent of concern

The report reviews a long-standing undercurrent of concern over U.S. reliance on a Russian rocket engine (RD-180) for critical national security space launches on one of the primary Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) rockets.

Furthermore, the report notes the legal challenges to the Air Force EELV program by SpaceX.

 

For your copy, of the report, go to:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R44498.pdf

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