WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Air Force has awarded a major US aerospace corporation a contract worth more than $100 million to build a new rocket propulsion system to end American dependence on the Russian RD-180 engine, the Defense Department said in a press release.
"Aerojet Rocketdyne, Canoga Park, California, has been awarded a $115.3 [million]… agreement for the development of the AR1 rocket propulsion system prototype for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program," the release stated on Monday.
On February 22, Senator Richard Shelby wrote in the Wall Street Journal that that the US government should continue buying and operating the RD-180 until an American-manufactured domestic alternative was available to ensure continued US access to space.
Some members of the US Congress, led by Senator John McCain, are against the fact that the US Air Force relies on RD-180 engines, imported from Russia, to get to space.
McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argues that Washington should stop buying the RD-180, a cost-effective booster engine with unique features, which powers te Atlas 5 rocket built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.