Satnews Daily
December 16th, 2014

Twenty Russian RD-181 Rocket Engines Allegedly Heading To U.S.

[SatNews] Russia’s Energomash scientific and production company has concluded a contract to deliver rocket engines to the U.S. corporation Orbital Sciences, the Izvestia newspaper said on Wednesday, this according to a report from the TASS news service.

Energomash employees stand in front of RD180 engines.

Photo courtesy of Energomash.

The engines will be used for the first stage of Antares rockets starting in 2015. Energomash will deliver 60 engines to the U.S. corporation, according to a high-ranking Roscosmos source, according to the newspaper. There is a contract to supply 20 engines and the work has already started to deliver the first two units in June—there are two more options, each for 20 units. The contract was concluded directly between Orbital Sciences and Energomash.

The Russian space agency source said the RD-181 engine was developed specially for the Antares. The development was based on the Angara RD-191, he added.

This was the second big contract concluded between Energomash and the U.S. company, the newspaper said. In late 1990, the Russian scientific center situated in Khimki, near Moscow, won a contract to supply RD-180 engines to the U.S. United Launch Alliance (ULA) company for Atlas rockets. ULA is a joint company of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

As TASS reported earlier, a draft law on allocations for military needs for the fiscal year of 2015 passed by the Senate of the Congress on December 12 had an amendment banning further purchases of Russian RD-180 engines for American Atlas rockets. The document specifies that $220 million would be provided for development of an American rocket engine to replace Russian RD180s. The Pentagon must develop such a new engine by the end of 2018.

Neither Energomash and Orbital Sciences offered comments regarding the article.