WALLOPS ISLAND (USA), (Sputnik) — General Director Igor Arbuzov told RIA Novosti on Friday the first unmanned test launch of the heavy-lift Atlas V vehicle with Boeing's Crew Transportation System (CTS) capsule is expected in 2017. The Atlas V CST's manned test launch is expected in 2018, he added.
"The crew had already been selected and is being trained. It was determined that the Atlas V manned program will be implemented using the Russian RD-180 engines," Arbuzov said.
He pointed out that the RD-180's and Atlas V's tried and tested performance gives confidence that manned launches could take place within specific time frames.
"Moreover, one can say with confidence that no other engine in the world except the RD-180 is ready for manned launches as part of the Atlas V rocket," the Energomash director stressed.
US Launch Operator to Buy 10-20 Russian RD-180 Space Rocket EnginesUnited Launch Alliance (ULA) operator plans to purchase 10-20 of Russia's RD-180 space rocket engines, the Energomash space and rocket engine director said.
Arbuzov expressed confidence to RIA Novosti that the new contract could be signed after the November 8 presidential elections in the United States.
"Not only do I expected it, but I am certain that this will happen. Even the currently available supply of Russian engines in the US does not fully meet its needs under the developing 2020-2023 program," Arbuzov said.
Asked if ULA had made a commercial offer for the RD-180 engines, Arbuzov said he discussed it with the joint venture's CEO Tory Bruno, who he said had made "optimistic statements" about the purchase.
Russian Space Bureau to Deliver 14 RD-181 Rocket Engines to US Manufacturer in 2017-18
Energomash will deliver 14 RD-181 engines to the US Orbital ATK aerospace and defense industry company over the next two years, Arbuzov said.
"According to the signed contract, we are required to deliver 14 engines from 2017 to 2018. I do not think there will be any replacements in favor of other engines, the time for experiments has expired and no alternatives have been found," he told RIA Novosti.
Orbital ATK's Antares vehicle equipped with two RD-181 first stage engines is expected to send the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station on October 16 after numerous delays.