Us senators have shown that they put the practical interests of the US above the political. They have slightly changed the sanctions against Russia, so NASA could use Russian rocket engines, while the American industry will not begin to produce its engines. While legislators from the United States suggested Russian colleagues, what could be the retaliatory sanctions of Moscow against Washington.
The U.S. Senate showed the same unanimity as the voting on the issue of extending sanctions against Russia, and when making changes to the law on sanctions against Russia and Iran S. 722. The new sanctions voted by 98 senators, against – 2. Almost the same unanimous was the vote on the amendment, which exempts from sanctions the Russian engines, which flies the American missiles, and both NASA and commercial firms: 94 in favour and 6 against.
Recall that in the original draft of the law stated ban to buy products of defense enterprises of the Russian Federation and companies connected with the Russian intelligence services. Of course, in this category were made in Russia’s rocket engine RD-180 manufactured by the Russian company Energomash and used by ULA rocket Atlas 5, RD-181, which flies the ships of the Antares of Orbital ATK.
Slightly changed the law yet to go through the House of representatives. However, in a positive result, no one no doubt. The vote in the Senate showed that the law of S. 722, and amendment No. 250 to it the unanimous support of both parties.
There was no way to determine who drew attention to the gaffe in the anti-Russian sanctions, the adoption of which would be very costly for the American space program. We only know that it was not the senators who voted clearly anti-Russian frenzy. Maybe the legislators ‘ attention was lulled by the fact that in the first version of the law had a clause, making an exception for Russian rocket engines, but only to those which were used in the launches related to national security of the United States, i.e. part of the flights and NASA missions, but it did not affect the civil and commercial launches.
To overestimate the importance of rocket engines with the mark Made in Russia for space exploration by the United States difficult. On Russian engines to fly numerous missiles that perform both civil and commercial missions. The adoption of the law on sanctions in its original form would have forced NASA and aerospace companies to postpone or even cancel the flights.
Started a few years ago a sharp cooling of relations between Washington and Moscow has put a question over the current heavy dependence of American space exploration from the Russian technology. Of course, the US is taking serious efforts to reduce this dependence and reducing it to nothing, but it turned out to be a long and sharp break ties greatly hurt American programs on space exploration.
«Without the amendment 250 we will lose a huge part of our access to space, explained the need for the amendment the Senator from Colorado Cory Gardner.- Without this supported by both parties amended numerous missions that are already included in our plans, we would have to postpone or even cancel. This would lead to a substantial increase in costs to American taxpayers…»
Senator Gardner was not unfounded. He cited many specific examples of the use of Russian engines, us companies, ranging from launching weather satellites to sending transport ships to the ISS.
NASA, of course, fully supported the amendment 250. Lightweight took breath in ULA, Orbital ATK and other American companies engaged in space exploration. However, there were amendments from opponents.
«I’m pretty sure it is this amendment, my colleagues and friends — said during a debate before the vote, the notorious Senator from Arizona John McCain, an outspoken opponent of Russian engines R180.- It’s a loophole for the military-industrial complex of Russia».
According to McCain, NASA should follow the example of the U.S. air force, which funded the development of new rocket engines in order to end dependence on RD-180.
«NASA should do the same!»- twice for emphasis, repeated by the Senator from Arizona.
Despite his extremely negative attitude to the amendment, McCain correctly predicted the outcome of the vote on it. It took the vast majority, although he voted against it.