The Rocket's Red Glare is Imported from Russia and China
By Joel D. Joseph, Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation
On July 4th we should reflect on our independence and the words of the Star Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key wrote the words 200 years ago, in September, 1814, "And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air," Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."
The Defense Department is now importing Russian rockets and Chinese missile fuel. The Pentagon imported thousands of American flags until Congress forced it to use domestic suppliers of the good old Red, White and Blue banner. The United States is now dependent on Russian rocket engines to launch military satellites, and relies on Chinese rocket fuel for Hellfire missiles. This not only weakens the U.S. economy, it directly threatens our national defense.
RD 180 Rocket Engine by www.astronautix.com
The United States military has been significantly weakened, not by the Iraq or Afghani wars, but by its own reliance on foreign suppliers of rocket engines, fuel and other critical military parts.
The Defense Department signed a contract with United Launch Alliance LLC, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. United Launch Alliances uses the Russian-made RD-180 engine on Atlas V rockets.
When a U.S. National Reconnaissance Office satellite lifted off into the sky above Cape Canaveral on April 10, 2014, the rocket's ultimate destination in space and the satellite's purpose were all kept top secret. But there is a strong possibility that the intelligence satellite launched that day will be used to monitor movements of the Russian military which remains massed on Ukraine's eastern border.
That was not the mission's only connection to Russia, however. The RD180 engines that powered the Atlas V rocket off the launch pad were built not by one of the U.S.'s domestic aerospace companies, but by Russia's NPO Energomash.
In retaliation for our sanctions against Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's deputy prime minister, announced that Russia would no longer allow export of RD180s to United Launch Alliance.
Space Exploration Company, known as Spacex, a relatively new American rocket manufacturer that supplies NASA with rockets, produces rocket engines in the United States. A recent study by NASA and the Air Force finds that it cost about $440 million for SpaceX to get from a blank sheet of paper to the first Falcon 9 launch, a small fraction of the cost of NASA launches. SpaceX was the first private company to launch a rocket, the Falcon 9, that docked with the International Space Station.
The Defense Department should require all rockets to be made in the United States and should consider using smaller, more efficient companies like SpaceX to keep costs in line.
The AGM-114 Hellfire is an air-to-surface missile developed primarily for anti-armor use. It was originally developed under the name Helicopter Launched, Fire and Forget Missile, which led to the acronym "Hellfire" that became the missile's formal name. Hellfire missiles are a widely used, reliable, and effective weapons launched from attack helicopters and unmanned drones. This missile is the primary 100-pound class air-to-ground precision weapon used by the armed forces of the United States.
The United States is completely dependent on a single Chinese company (1,2,4 Butanetriol) for the chemical needed to produce the solid rocket fuel used to propel Hellfire missiles. As current U.S. supplies diminish, our military will be dependent on China to maintain this missile system. Hellfire missiles are a critical component in America's arsenal.
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