The U.S. depends on Russia to build the engines it needs to lift national security payloads into orbit and to supply the Soyuz crew capsule needed to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
That's not OK with Gen. John Hyten, head of the Air Force Space Command and President Barack Obama's nominee to take charge of the U.S. Strategic Command.
Hyten told the Senate Armed Forces Committee the U.S. needs to move away from dependence on Russia and toward independence in space, according to Space Daily.
"I pledge to continue to work with the Congress to make sure this nation ceases our reliance on the Russian RD-180 as soon as possible and never loses assured access to space."
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. officials worried top Russian scientists would be lured away by rogue states, like North Korea, which are seeking advanced missile technology.
The policy worked well for a number of years and remained largely without controversy with Russia receiving billions of dollars for the sale of the rocket boosters. That was until 2014, when Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed Crimea from the Ukraine.
The move produced an international uproar and members of Congress began to call for a move away from the Russian built RD-180 engines used in the Atlas V, Delta IV and SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, but there was some pushback.
Using Delta IV rocket boosters instead of the Russian built engines will cost the U.S. military some $1.5 billion annually; money it desperately needs to maintain and upgrade other systems.