The U.S. Air Force is rattled about the state of American rocket propulsion. There is entrepreneur-provocateur Elon Musk trying to wedge ’s commercially developed Falcons into the service’s decades-long embrace of Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, built by and , respectively. Then there is Russia’s tweeting deputy prime minister, Dimitry Rogozin, who says Moscow will turn off the supply of RD-180 engines that are on the Atlas V, which is used to loft the largest satellites critical to U.S. national security.
Like the morning alarm clock going off, all this may be startling but it is hardly surprising. If the U.S. is serious about wanting a commercial space industry to grow, why would it not expect a newcomer to demand a share of the business that has been going to what are essentially the American equivalents of design bureaus? It may not be nice to sue your potential customer, but it surely will get his attention.The emphasis should be on more exotic, non-chemical based propulsion. To read more, click here.