WASHINGTON, April 29. /TASS/. US Department of Defense asked the Congress to extend up to 2022 operation of Russian-built RD-180 rocket engines for launching military and intelligence satellites into orbit, General John Hyten, head of US Air Force Space Command, told journalists on Tuesday.
The Pentagon made an official request to make amendments to legislation adopted last December stipulating that the Russian RD-180 engine will be replaced by US analogues starting from 2019. The US Department of Defense insists on expanding the operation terms of RD-180 engines for four years, Hyten added.
The United States is still considering the possibility of purchasing Russia’s licence on the RD-180 rocket engines’ manufacturing in US territory, Hyten said, replying to a relevant TASS question. He also said that the possibility of the engines’ future use for space launches in the interests of the Pentagon and national intelligence services was excluded.
The US commander told journalists that the US side was no longer considering the possibility of the RD-180 engines’ use in the United States for future space launches in the interests of national security. However, according to him, the use of the RD-180 engines for any other purposes - civilian, commercial, as well as its use by the national aerospace agency NASA is still possible. Therefore, there are a number of organisations that are exploring such options.
Hyten said Russia was also against the use of the RD-180 engines in the United States for launching satellites of the Pentagon and US intelligence services. He referred to last year’s statements by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Oleg Ostapenko who headed the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) then. Last May, Rogozin and Ostapenko warned that Moscow might stop supplying the RD-180 engines to the United States if it continued to use them for the launch of military and intelligence satellites.