Omnibus lifts ban on using Russian rocket engines


The fiscal 2016 omnibus budget bill lawmakers unveiled late Tuesday night will lift the ban on using Russian rocket engines for U.S. satellite launches.

Section 8048 of the more than 2,000-page bill states that awards for the country's space launch program "may be made to a launch service provider competing with any certified launch vehicle in its inventory regardless of the country of origin of the rocket engine that will be used on its launch vehicle, in order to ensure robust competition and continued assured access to space."

After the Russian invasion of Crimea, Congress banned U.S. space launch companies from using Russian-made RD-180 rockets in all launches after 2019. Of the two private contractors competing for the Pentagon's space contracts, SpaceX has its own engine system made in America while United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, still relies on the Russian systems.

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