As Ukraine Crisis Unfolds, DoD’s Options Are Limited

As Ukraine Crisis Unfolds, DoD’s Options Are Limited

If Russia did cut off supplies of the RD-180, it might be more symbolic than actually painful for the US, according to Marco Caceres, director of space studies with the Teal Group. “The Atlas V isn’t launching that much, so short-term impact would be minimal,” Caceres said. “The long-term impact would be that Atlas V would have to find another engine and that wouldn’t be easy.” The biggest impact might come not to US military launch, but to the corporate firms that provide it. Right now, military launch is provided either by ULA’s Atlas V or Delta IV. For years, the US has wanted to maintain two families of launch vehicles in case one failed. However, SpaceX looks poised for certification this year. The combination of having a third launch option, along with the lack of RD-180 parts, might lead to the end of the Atlas V. That may be all hypothetical, however, as Caceres doubts Russia would block sales of RD-180s, primarily because of the financial impact. “It’s not to the benefit of the Russians to do this. These are engines that bring in hard currency to Russia, the same way Russian oil and gas does,” he said. “Russia doesn’t really export much else of any consequence. ”

Tags Atlas V, Engines, Lockheed Martin, Russia, SpaceX, Ukraine, United Launch Alliance Media Outlet: Defense News Featured Analyst Marco A. Caceres

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