“This guy right here, John McCain, who basically ; he’s like this with Elon Musk,”
Tobey said during a March 15 presentation at the University of Colorado-Boulder, according to audio posted by Space News.
“So Elon Musk says, 'Why don’t you guys go, why don’t you go after United Launch Alliance and see if you can get that engine to be outlawed?'”
ULA Engineering Vice President Brett Tobey this week accused the Senate Armed Services chairman of teaming up with SpaceX founder Elon Musk to ban the RD-180 rocket engine, which powers ULA’s Atlas V launch vehicles.
SpaceX is ULA's main competition for Pentagon business, as the company's Falcon 9 rocket won certification last year to compete for military space launches.
ULA and the Pentagon are working together to figure out a way to “silence McCain,” Tobey suggested in his remarks.
The company, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is even considering completely transitioning from Atlas V to the much more expensive Delta IV for satellite launch.
“The problem is that carries a $1 billion or $2 billion budget, and is it worth that billion or two dollars of taxpayer money, just to silence John McCain, who’s the squeaky wheel in all this?”
“It really is a one-man band out there that’s driving forward. Everyone wants to get off of the RD-180 engine, but they want to do it in a more logical and organized way that basically doesn’t put those national assets at risk.”