WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — In 2014, Congress passed a law requiring the United States to develop a domestically produced next-generation rocket propulsion system by 2019 in order to eliminate reliance on the Russian RD-180 rocket engines.
“ULA has ordered additional Atlas engines to serve our existing and potential civil and commercial launch customers until a new American-made engine can be developed and certified,” the statement said on Wednesday.
ULA explained in the statement that while it is the right time to move to the use of American engines, it is critical to make sure that the transition from one engine to another is smooth.
“Until then, this bridge contract will allow ULA to provide the reliable, affordable launch services our civil and commercial customers depend on from us while the new, American engine is being developed,” the company said.
On Friday, the Congress passed an all-encompassing 2,200 page budget that includes a provision allowing the United States to continue purchasing the Russian RD-180 rocket engines, which it uses for national defense and other space launches.
The US government is currently looking to award contracts to manufacturers to expedite the replacement of the RD-180 engine.