16:32 GMT02 December 2020
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    COLORADO SPRINGS (Sputnik) – Russia is maintaining a high quality of its RD-180 rocket engines, President and CEO of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Tory Bruno told Sputnik on the sidelines of the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

    “They [Russians] are actually doing a very good job and they are being very responsive. The quality is maintained high and we have had no issues with supply from them […] They have been delivering ahead of need and they still owe me some”, Bruno said.

    The ULA has some two years’ worth number of the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines, Bruno told Sputnik.

    READ MORE: Elon Musk Lauds Brilliant Russian Rocket Engine RD-180 in Core of US' Atlas V

    “I have quite a bit of inventory in country now […] I won’t say how many but I have lots of engines. I have more than a couple years’ worth in country now”, Bruno said.

    However, Bruno could not clarify if there is a need for more RD-180 engines after 2022. “I don’t know yet. I literally just don’t know”, Bruno said when asked whether the company will need RD-180 rocket engines after 2022.

    “We are allowed a certain amount of engines for national security purposes, that was 18 […] We are also at the same time given a deadline that whatever those missions or they had to be ordered by our government before 2022, they could be flown whenever so once the missions were purchased before 2022. And there are no restrictions on the use of RD-180s for commercial or civil space applications”, the ULA CEO added.

    The US space program relies on the Russian-built and supplied RD-180 engines to power the first stage of the Atlas V rocket, the only US vehicle now capable of sending heavy payloads. RD-180 is developed and manufactured by the Russian company Energomash, and is designed for the use in US Atlas carrier rockets.

    READ MORE: Air Force Chief of Staff: US 'On Track' to Replace Russian RD-180 Rocket Engine

    Earlier this month, John Raymond, head of the US Air Force Space Command, said, however, that the Pentagon planned to end purchases of RD-180 engines by 2022. In 2014, the US Congress strictly limited future purchases of Russian RD-180 engines as part of the economic sanctions on Russia.

    US lawmakers passed a law requiring the United States to develop a domestically produced next-generation rocket propulsion system by 2019 in order to eliminate reliance on the RD-180s. However, in 2015, the ban was canceled and then, in 2016, the US Senate decided to continue purchasing the Russian RD-180 rocket engines to launch payloads into space until 2022.

    READ MORE: US-Russia Venture Hopes to Sell More RD-180 Rocket Engines to US


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