A report on the US industry's ability to develop rocket engines must be supplied to the US Congress by 15 January.
The demand for the report is contained within the NASA Authorisation Act 2008, signed into law by President George Bush on 15 October.
It requires the president's executive office's office of science and technology policy director to produce a report that assesses "the capacity of the US industrial base for development and production of engines to meet [US government] and commercial requirements for space launch vehicles".
The report must include information on existing, pending, and planned engine developments for suborbital and small, medium, and heavylift rockets. Space Exploration Technologies' is developing its Merlin engine to deliver more thrust for its Falcon 9 booster, while for suborbital flights Scaled Composites is working with Spacedev to produce a hybrid rocket motor for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.