by J Michael Waller / The Daily Caller / May 19, 2014. After Russia cut off the sole supply of first-stage booster engines to the U.S. Air Force’s Atlas V rockets – the rockets that place our military and intelligence satellites in orbit – I wrote a piece for The Daily Caller to alert the public to the problem, and to ask the question: Why did we let this happen?
Here’s the beginning of my article:
Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security council publicly raised the idea of cutting off America’s military and spy satellite program at the knees.
All Putin needed to do was to shut down the supply of RD-180 engines that the U.S. Air Force was buying to power the lift-offs of the American Atlas V rockets into space.
The KGB strongman had the power to cut the supply in an instant. Not because he had pulled off an incredible intelligence coup against the United States – although FBI sources say that Putin’s hostile espionage operations against the U.S. have exceeded Cold War levels – but because the U.S. government placed the opportunity right in Putin’s hands.
Washington had made the Putin regime the sole-source supplier of reliable engines to launch U.S. Air Force military and intelligence satellites into orbit. The RD-180 engine is made in Russia by NPO Energomash, a state-controlled military space company founded under Stalin.
What began as an urgent program to provide the U.S. with an alternate means of deploying a constellation of new satellites into space to fight the global war on terror became, over time, an exclusive monopoly that gave Putin effective control of U.S. national security mission launches.