Russia’s Fakel design bureau is the world leader in electric propulsion systems for maneuvering satellites in space. After this year’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russians declared they would stop selling such systems to the West, which was fine with countries already in the process of applying economic sanctions to Moscow. There are plenty of other sources for in-space propulsion systems. But since there is already a compelling reason for imposing sanctions, this would be a good time to permanently ban all such Russian technologies from U.S. and allied spacecraft. Not just the military spacecraft, but civil and commercial ones too. There is no good reason to be depending on a country that the U.S. national defense strategy designates a threat for critical technology. In-space propulsion is one of the few technologies where Russia has managed to surpass the U.S., but the time has come to end Moscow’s claim on that part of the marketplace. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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