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14 Sep, 2010 22:40

Russia ships four Atlas rocket engines to US

Four Russian-made rocket engines will soon be on their way across the Atlantic to NASA. The high-tech RD-180 boosters are to be flown to America onboard the world's largest cargo plane.

The RD-180 is a powerful machine weighing over five tons – the heavyweight among engines.

The four that are now being shipped to the US will serve as the engines for Atlas space rockets which transport satellites into orbit.

One of the biggest planes, the Ruslan, has been chosen to deliver those engines to the US. Usually it is used to transport locomotives and even fuselages of planes.

RD-180 engines are manufactured in the city of Khimki, right outside of Moscow. The deal for Russia to supply these engines to the US was signed back in the 1990s, and exactly 10 years ago the first Atlas rocket equipped with an RD-180 engine lifted off in the US.

After 10 years, Russia is supplying the 50th engine. Cooperation has been quite productive, as the US had 28 successful launches of Atlas rockets equipped with RD-180 engines.

Under the deal, Russia is supposed to supply 101 engines in total.