The following authorization language, which sources say was written, if not wholly then very nearly so, by SpaceX and promoted by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin, has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill for the last several days. In addition to this proposal, SpaceX lobbyists and Senators Feinstein and Durbin have been meeting senators to push the proposal’s merit while avoiding any mention that United Launch Alliance has assured Congress that it has a +2 year supply of RD-180s.
Adoption of the proposal’s language would not only likely mean the end of the Atlas V rocket but would also practically guarantee SpaceX a monopoly in the commercial crew launch market.
Here is a response by a GOP Senate aide,
- “This is a transparent attempt to try to distort competition. SpaceX portrays itself as only wanting free and fair competition, but instead is using its political benefactors to try to force its main competition, the Atlas rocket – a proven, successful, and reliable launch vehicle – out of business. More troubling is that some appear willing to risk national security and cost the government millions of dollars associated with breaking the ULA contract in order to help SpaceX avoid competing with Atlas.”
Breaking Defense has excellent coverage about the goings-on of the push by Senator Feinstein to curtail use of the Atlas V for DoD launches in their article, SpaceX Turns Up Heat On ULA; Sen. Feinstein Writes SecDef.
Another good article is Pentagon Mulls Building All-American Rocket Engines, Dropping Russian RD-180s.