NASA does not use American-made engines to launch satellites into orbit. That is done using the powerful, still operational, Russian RD-180 rocket engine.
That wasn’t the result of President Trump supposedly colluding with the Russians to defeat Hillary, as if Trump needed Russian help to defeat the weakest Presidential candidate in U.S. history. It is the result of President Obama’s sequester, by which Obama managed to impose half of all cuts to reduce his all-time record deficits and soaring national debt on national defense and related programs. NASA’s space launch capability fell victim to those sequester cuts.
This is a choking point of vulnerability, because America’s military is so dependent now on satellites for communication, and operational capability in the field. But under President Trump, America is already repealing and replacing Obama’s dubious reliance on Russia for America’s military satellite launches.
NASA is now developing its new Space Launch System for deep space missions. That rocket will be powered by American-made engines, one of which is developed by Aeroject Rockedyne, a company now partially based in Silicon Valley.
But Aerojet Rocketdyne recently announced that it is cutting 1,100 jobs in California, to move them to Mississippi and Alabama, with part of its AR1/RS-25 engine to be assembled at Mississippi’s Stennis Space Center. The company will be expanding its Center of Excellence for Large Liquid Rocket Engine Assembly and Test there.
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake said, “This plan will establish Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility at NASA Stennis as the company’s Center of Excellence for Large Liquid Rocket Engine Assembly and Test and solidify NASA’s Stennis Space Center as the nation’s premier rocket engine test facility.”
But it is hard to feel sorry for California, as its liberal Democrats, who dominate the state’s politics, have done so much to drive businesses out of the state. California now has the highest income tax rates, and the highest sales tax rates, in the country, and a hostile, anti-business regulatory environment. Aerojet Rocketdyne in fact cited that as the reason for the move.
But that is so transparently false. The reason for the move is actually crony capitalism favoritism, as Aerojet Rocketdyne is seeking new government contracts, and favorable appropriations for those contracts, including its NASA contract.
The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee relating to those contracts is Sen. Thad Cochrane of Mississippi. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama is also a member of that Committee. They both benefitted from donations from the company’s PAC in the last election cycle. The House Appropriations Committee includes two Representatives from Alabama – Reps. Robert Aderholt and Martha Roby.
Republicans have been campaigning for years that they need to clean up the appropriations process. Indeed, Republicans eliminated earmarks to stop these Crony Capitalism payoffs. But the Appropriations process still operates in the shadows, with Appropriators still having the power to load up bills with special interest projects.
Republicans should stick to their principles against Crony Capitalism favoritism. That does not allow for free market competition if the government has been bought off to favor one party. The disfavored party is precluded from the equal freedom to compete, without equal access to the insiders distributing favors.
Even when that disfavors malefactors such as California liberal Democrats, that is no reason for Republicans to give up on their principles. Such unprincipled governance betrays Republican grassroots supporters who remain true to Republican values.