22 May 2014
Based on a summary briefing of a yet-to-be-released report, a commission led by Air Force Maj Gen (ret.) Howard Mitchell, along with former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin as deputy chair, recommends that the U.S. begin work as soon as possible on a new liquid oxygen (LOx)/hydrocarbon engine program to mitigate the effects if Russia decides to ban the sale of RD-180 engines to the U.S. The group found that, if in a worst-case scenario the Atlas V rocket was retired because of a lack of engines, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and ULA’s Delta IV would not be able to immediately pick up the launch slack. SpaceX, in particular, could only accommodate a small number of the satellites. Therefore, a joint NASA/Air Force engine program would provide options in the future, including an alternative to the Delta IV. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)
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