NASA seeking 40-year-old Russian rockets

A major US rocket manufacturer says it may buy Russian rocket boosters for its launch vehicle Taurus II, which is being developed for NASA.

US Aerojet company is in talks over the possible deal following the success of lengthy tests of the Russian NK-33 engine by Russian United Engine Corporation (SNTK) in early March.

Aerojet bought the same model in the mid-1990s and this time might need up to 70 units, according to SNTK CEO Nikolay Nikitin.

“Aerojet bought about 40 NK-33 engines in the mid-1990s, paying $1 million for each unit. The US company has 30 engines at present and will need 20 for ten launches to the International Space Station,” Nikitin told Vedomosti newspaper, adding that the price of newly delivered engines is likely to be around six million dollars.

The rocket engine is produced in Central Russia's Samara region and was first developed in late the 1960s for the Russian N1 lunar launch vehicle.