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U.S. Should Spurn Russian Rockets Despite SpaceX Failure, McCain Says

The failure of a SpaceX rocket over the weekend should not prompt U.S. officials to consider purchasing Russian-made rockets again to get military equipment into space, a top lawmaker said June 29.

"This mishap in no way diminishes the urgency of ridding ourselves of the Russian RD-180 rocket engine," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.

The United States last year placed tough new constraints on purchasing Russian-made engines for launching U.S. military satellites in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea and other aggressive moves in Ukraine.

The U.S. Air Force recently advertised for U.S. companies to supply rocket engines, and the up-and-coming SpaceX was considered likely to win a contract.

But on June 28, an unmanned SpaceX rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station exploded after liftoff in Florida, raising questions about its readiness.

McCain said Elon Musk's company is still in contention, however.

"I am confident that this minor setback will in no way impede the future success of SpaceX and its ability to support U.S. national security space missions," he said.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP