01 May 14. A US Judge has issued an injunction against the purchase of Russian-made engines for the United Launch Alliance (ULA), citing American sanctions against the head of Russia’s space program.
The injunction, filed Wednesday by Judge Susan Braden, prevents the United Launch Alliance and the US Air Force from ‘making any purchases from or payment of money to NPO Energomash or any entity, whether governmental, corporate or individual, that is subject to the control of Deputy Prime Minister [Dmitry] Rogozin’. The news is another hit against ULA and comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by upstart launch company SpaceX, which is seeking to overturn an Air Force decision to award ULA a block buy of 36 launch contracts. Rogozin was placed on the sanctions list by President Barack Obama as a result of the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine. He was highlighted as a concern by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in an April 25 press conference announcing the lawsuit. “The person who, sort of, heads up Russian space activities is Dmitry Rogozin, who’s on the sanctions list,” Musk said. “So it seems pretty strange. How is it we’re sending hundreds of millions of US taxpayer money at a time when Russia is in the process of invading the Ukraine? It would be hard to imagine someway which Dmitry Rogozin is not benefiting closely from the dollars that are being sent there. We think this deserves to have a spotlight on it. Let the sun shine on this, and as I say sunlight is the best disinfectant and if everything is fine then I guess that’s great. But that seems unlikely to me.” Last week, Rogozin seemed to anticipate being tied to the space industry, tweeting from his English account @DRogozin “Do they think that I keep the money from sales of our engines from state enterprises for myself? Morons.’ On Tuesday, Rogozin threatened to withhold access to the International Space Station from US astronauts, tweeting “After analysing the sanctions against our space industry I suggest the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline.”
The engine question is the RD-180, which ULA has been using in its Atlas V vehicle for 20 years. Any orders placed before the injunction will not be impacted, according to the filing. (Source: Defense News)
30 Apr 14. A senior US senator has moved to block hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt to protest the death sentences imposed on nearly 700 suspected Islamists. Denouncing Egypt’s “dictatorship run amok” and its “egregious violation of human rights,” Democrat Patrick Leahy, who heads the Senate subcommittee overseeing foreign aid appropriations, said he is putting a hold on the $650m in military aid greenlighted by the Pentagon last week. “I am not prepared to sign off on the delivery of additional aid for the Egyptian military,” Leahy said in a floor speech Tuesday. “I am not prepared to do that until we see convincing evidence the government is committed to the rule of law.” The US administration last week partially lifted a six-month freeze on some $1.5bn in mostly military aid to Cairo, a key regional ally that has relied for decades on American aid. Washington had agreed to deliver 10 Apache helicopters for counterterrorism efforts in the unruly Sinai peninsula and $650m in military aid, but withheld the rest of the funding until democratic progress is made. But Leahy said Egypt is not worthy of the assistance until it takes immediate steps to improve its rights record. (Source: Defense News)
30 Apr 14. One word dominated a summary of legislation released Wednesday by the US House panel that oversees Army, Marine Corps and Air Force weapon programs: ‘Support.’ The House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee largely backed the services’ plans for everything from new fighter jets to tiltrotor aircraft to helicopters to surveillance drone planes to combat vehicles. The panel backed the Pentagon’s plans to buy 34 Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets in 2015, a strong start to t