Quickly ending U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines for military satellite launches could add up to $5 billion in costs, U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah James testified on March 3.
James said Air Force efforts to develop a U.S. rocket engine for powering heavy satellites into space were advancing, but an early ban on use of RD-180 rocket engines from Russia would force the service to choose other launch providers.
"Preliminary analysis suggests that a transition...would add anywhere from $1.5 billion to $5 billion in additional costs," she told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "The sooner a full RD-180 ban might start, the more disruptive it would be...and the higher the cost would be."
Committee Chairman John McCain wants to quickly end U.S. dependence on Russian engines. Congress passed a ban on the engines after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014.
But the ban was later weakened because of the high cost and difficulty of finding replacements.