With Russia’s deputy prime minister threatening to cut off U.S. access to his country’s space-launch technology, it is obvious that Washington will have to change its approach to space. In particular, it needs to expeditiously fund development of a new liquid-fuel rocket engine that can match the efficiency of the latest Chinese and Russian offerings. Aerojet Rocketdyne, the most credible potential source of such an engine, says it can be ready in four years if the government funds a $1 billion development program. While this is unfolding, though, the Air Force needs to husband what launch resources it already has to guard against a shortfall in capacity, and rigorously assess what new market entrants like SpaceX have to offer. It would be nice to see all this happen without derailing NASA plans for a new Space Launch System. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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