Air Force Space Command is asking industry to provide information on a potential new booster propulsion and launch system for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class spacelifts. In light of ongoing conflicts with Russia, USAF is seeking a domestic alternative to the RD-180 engine to ensure continued access to space. According to the request for information notice, the new domestic solution may be a near carbon copy with “similar performance characteristics to currently used engines,” or it can consist of different configurations (such as a multiple engine configuration) that provide similar functionality. Use of completely different launch vehicles also is a possibility. “The Air Force is particularly interested in exploiting any available synergies with commercial space launch systems” and making sure the new engine also has both military and non-military utility, the solicitation said. Jessica Rye, a United Launch Alliance spokeswoman, said via email Thursday the company is looking forward to being a part of the new engine solution. “The US government also recently made clear that it supports investment in a domestic engine and we look forward to participating in the development of that public-private partnership,” she said. Responses are due by Sept. 19.
It’s hard to know why the F-35 Block 4 upgrade's cost—now $16.5 billion and rising—is going up because it is mixed with the rest of the program, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report.