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    This artist’s concept shows Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as it will appear for the launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is modifying the launch pad to host Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles

    US Plan to Diversify Expendable Space Launch Vehicles Being Questioned

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    The US Air Force strategy to encourage different companies to provide competing first stage rocket boosters for launching satellites into orbit is being questioned as potentially unsustainable, officials say.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Air Force strategy to encourage different companies to provide competing first stage rocket boosters for launching satellites into orbit is being questioned as potentially unsustainable, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said on Friday.

    "[Q]uestions have been raised about whether competition among US launch providers is sustainable given market conditions, both domestically and internationally," the report noted.

    In 2015, there were 86 global launches of which only 22 were considered commercial launches, the GAO pointed out.

    The US Department of Defense "is gathering and analyzing information on predicted launch demand. However, history has proven that it is difficult to reliably predict the demand for launch services," the report warned.

    Many factors influence the quantity, size, and frequency of satellite launches for both government and commercial use, such as the demand for satellite telecommunication services or the constellation health of satellite systems, the GAO observed.

    The US Air Force relied on a single space launch provider — the United Launch Alliance, which has used the Russian RD-180 engines to put up satellites for ten years, the report noted.

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    Tags:
    rocket engine, US Government Accountability Office (GAO), US Air Force, US Department of Defense (DoD), United States
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