Russian rocket engines to continue launching America into space
“We signed the contract until 2020, and we will supply our partners with six more RD-180 engines,” said Igor Arbuzov, CEO of Russia’s Energomash. The RD-180 engines operate at the first stage of the US Atlas V rockets.
The cheaper and more reliable RD-180 engine is developed and manufactured by Energomash and is designed for the US Atlas carrier rockets. The contract was extended by Energomash and United Launch Alliance (ULA), a private supplier to the Pentagon and NASA.
After US-Russia relations deteriorated over Ukraine in 2014, lawmakers in Washington proposed phasing out RD-180 purchases in favor of US-made engines. However, the US does not have a reliable alternative to Russian rocket engines. After requests made by NASA, the US Congress passed a budget for next year that provides for the purchase of Russian RD-180s. Shortly afterwards, the ULA ordered an additional 20 RD-180 engines at the request of the Pentagon.
Earlier, it was reported that ULA, most likely, will continue to use Russian-produced engines until 2024-2025 or even up to 2028. The agreement was first reached in 1997, when Moscow and Washington signed a $1-billion contract for the supply of 101 RD-180 engines.
The Atlas V, a two-stage rocket with the initial stage powered by an RD-180 engine, has completed 75 launches since its first flight in 2002, according to the ULA.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section