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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Boeing Co (BA.N), on Wednesday said it had ordered 20 more RD-180 rocket engines from Russia, on top of 29 engines ordered before Russia's invasion of the Crimea region of Ukraine last year.

ULA said it would use the Russian engines on its Atlas 5 rockets to serve existing and potential civil and commercial launch customers until a new U.S.-built engine was developed and certified.

ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said deliveries on the new batch of engines would start once ULA received all of the previous order. ULA received eight RD-180 engines this year, she said.

The new order came days after the enactment of a massive U.S. spending bill that eased a ban on using Russian engines to launch U.S. military and intelligence satellites for fiscal 2016, which ends Sept. 30.

Congress banned military use of the engines after Russia annexed Crimea last year, but a provision in the fiscal 2016 spending measure leaves competition for launch contracts open to companies regardless of the origin of their engines.

Tag(s) : #space

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