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Pentagon Eyes European-Built Rockets to Launch Military Satellites

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Defense Meteorological SatellitePentagon officials are investigating the use European-built rockets to launch U.S. military satellites to space as part of an effort to sever the nation’s reliance on Russian engines, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Claire Leon, U.S. Air Force’s rocket-acquisition officer, told a space conference that the military has kicked off a study on the feasibility of sending national security payloads into orbit with Arianespace-built rockets, Andy Pasztor reports.

The goal is to use the Ariane 5 launcher over the coming years for satellite launch missions until U.S. launch companies address the financial and technical issues surrounding their space launch initiatives, according to the report.

Pasztor writes the Air Force and Arianespace officials are set to conduct further negotiations and the study is still in an early stage.

Lawmakers who oversee military funding will have to approve that policy decision, the Journal reports.

Arianespace told the Journal that the company has carried national security payloads for NATO allies over the last 30 years and that the company is poised to provide backup launch for the U.S. if called upon.

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