Senators blast slow Pentagon work to replace Russian rocket motor

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon hold a joint news conference in WashingtonBy Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two U.S. senators are asking Defense Secretary Ash Carter to jumpstart a Pentagon initiative to develop a new U.S. rocket engine that could replace the Russian-built RD-180 motor, which powers a key rocket used to lift satellites into space. Senators James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said they were concerned that the Defense Department and the Air Force were not complying with a law that seeks development of a U.S. alternate engine by 2019. The senators said the Air Force was not using $220 million appropriated by Congress in the fiscal 2015 budget for work on a new U.S. engine, and had not budgeted enough funds to meet the 2019 deadline.

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