Rogers: Losing Space is Not an Option

Rep. Michael Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, reiterated his determination to end the US’ reliance on the Russian-made RD-180 engine, a move he said was necessary to provide assured access to space. Speaking during an AFA and industry-sponsored breakfast Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Rogers (R-Ala.) cited the “remarkable success record” of 83 consecutive launches by United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V, which uses the RD-180. However, he also said the explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in late June serves as a costly reminder “that getting into space is anything but routine.” Air Force space leaders have said any new engine would require a redesigned launch vehicle, which would not be available before the supply of RD-180s runs out, but Rogers disagreed. “I believe the US industry can develop an advanced rocket engine by 2019 that will fit the existing launch vehicle and infrastructure,” he said. “That would be the lowest risk path and the lowest cost path for the warfighter.” Rogers also noted how Russian and Chinese anti-satellite programs, “are pushing us to reconsider how we are operating in space. Losing space is not an option.”