After years of controversy, the Senate has come to an agreement on the use of Russian rocket engines, announcing a deal that would allow the United Launch Alliance to use as many as 18 of the engines over the next several years.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, had fought to severely restrict the use of the engines in the Pentagon's launches, saying the U.S. military should not depend on Russia to get its satellites into space.  But he said he agreed to the compromise because it calls for no launch contracts using the engines to be awarded after 2022.

ULA, the joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, uses the RD-180 in its Atlas V rocket. It is working with Jeffrey P. Bezos's Blue Origin to develop a new, American-made engine that could be ready for its new Vulcan rocket by as early as 2019. Aerojet Rocketdyne is also working on a replacement engine.

(Bezos, the founder and chief executive of, also owns The Washington Post.)

The language was added to the Pentagon's spending bill, which was approved by the Senate on Tuesday, 85 to 13.

In a statement, ULA applauded the compromise, saying it "ensures our country’s assured access to space, strengthens competition, protects taxpayers and keeps America’s launch industry healthy for decades to come."