01:21 GMT20 September 2020
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    The chaotic current state of the Ukrainian government and of the country’s heavy industry sector makes it unlikely that Kiev could build rocket engines to replace the Russian RD-180 ones for the US space program, European and US analysts told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Ukraine has proposed to the United States joint development and production of rocket engines to replace Russia’s RD-180 engines that the US side buys for its space industry, head of the State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU) Lyubomyr Sabadosh said last week.

    "Washington does seem capable of any anti-Russia action. But there is the practical issue as whether Ukraine could deliver given the current state of its economy and political turmoil," University of Pittsburgh Professor of International Affairs Michael Brenner said.

    However, Brenner pointed out that the current, fractious state of both the Ukrainian government and disorganized state of heavy industry made the practical carrying out of such an ambitious program unlikely within the foreseeable future.

    Because of these factors, "I expect that Obama won't move," he said regarding the likelihood on concluding an agreement for Ukraine to build the replacement rocket engines for the United States.

    University of Copenhagen History Professor Matthew Dal Santo agreed that Ukraine’s military industrial sector was in no state to meet the challenge of building new highly complex and reliable engines for rocket boosters.

    "There is no doubt that Ukraine’s weapons’ industry has collapsed as a result of the breach in relations with Russia," Dal Santo stated.

    Any effort by the US and Ukrainian governments to implement such an agreement would have little practical consequence and could only serve to further strain the relations of both countries with Moscow needlessly, Dal Santo warned.

    "Closer cooperation between the United States and Ukraine would only confirm in Russian eyes that Ukraine was on the path to becoming a US satellite and that NATO membership is still Washington's ultimate goal for Kiev."

    Dal Santo also said there could be no serious motive to try and achieve such an unrealistic goal of getting Ukraine to build replacement rocket engines.

    "This looks like more tit-for-tat politics, satisfying (for some) in the short term, but cumulatively quite damaging to US-Russia relations in the long run. Of course, the real goal should be building bridges with Moscow, not burning them," Dal Santo concluded.

    If the RD-180 engine is banned for use before a US-made alternative is ready, the American military may be forced to use the more expensive Delta IV rocket, increasing the cost to taxpayers by at least $1.5 billion.

    The US Air Force buys launch services from two US companies that are certified to bid on national security missions: United Launch Alliance and SpaceX.

    United Launch Alliance — a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin — predominantly uses an Atlas V rocket powered by a Russian-made RD-180 engine for national security launches.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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