The United States is developing a super-efficient rocket engine for a new rocket that could lead to a new era of low-cost spaceflight.
The engine, which the U.S. Air Force says could propel a satellite to orbit in as little as a year, could lead the country to the same type of spaceflight success that Russia achieved with its Soyuz rocket, according to a report Thursday from The Associated Press.
A similar engine developed by SpaceX and Japan’s Hitachi Space Industries is also being tested for a potential crewed mission to the International Space Station.
NASA is currently developing its own version of the engine for use on the space shuttle.
In the current system, the engine uses a liquid-oxygen propellant to power the rocket.
But a study by the Air Force concluded that this system has a greater risk of burning up in the atmosphere.
The Air Force is currently testing the engines and is hoping to test them on a Russian rocket to help determine how safe they are, a NASA official said.
The report also said the Air National Guard is evaluating a new test stand that would allow the launch of a smaller satellite, and a small satellite could launch with just one of the engines.
The new rocket would be able to carry a smaller payload, allowing it to fly farther from the launch pad and lower the cost of space travel.
The agency is developing the engine to be lighter than the Soyuz and to have a much higher performance, the AP reported.
It’s hoped the new engine will be ready to go by 2020.
A U.K.-based aerospace company, Electron Rocket, was awarded a $250 million contract to build the engine.
The company will develop the new rocket engine under a government contract.
The AP reported that the engine would be developed by the U