01:23 GMT24 June 2021
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    The United Launch Alliance (ULA) will receive 11 RD-180 rocket engines in 2017 through US-Russian venture RD Amross, with the latter hoping to sell more in the future, RD Amross CEO Michael Baker told Sputnik on the sidelines of the Space Symposium in Colorado.

    COLORADO SPRINGS (Sputnik) — The ULA acquires the engines through RD Amross, which is a joint venture, involving RD-180 manufacturer, Russian company Energomash.

    "Right now we have 28 more engines to deliver, 11 this year, 11 next year and 6 in 2019," Baker said.

    "We are really hoping that ULA is going to purchase some more engines. Right now they are going through the internal process, trying to determine if they need to buy any and if so, how many," Baker said. "I am pretty confident that they are going to buy some. We just don’t know how many and we’re not sure when they’re going to let us know. Hopefully before June."

    When asked for what year, he noted, "2019 I think and into 2020 maybe."

    Baker added that he did not foresee any difficulties on the part of the Congress.

    The US' plan to replace Russian RD-180 rocket engines with US-made ones is more about politics, Baker told Sputnik.

    "I think it’s more politics because it is a very successful partnership that has been very good for both countries," Baker said. "Everybody wants to have their own organic capabilities. I understand that. But we had this joint partnership 20 years for the purpose to help bring us together, to help bring two countries together and I think it has done that very well."

    In 2014, the US Congress strictly limited future purchases of Russian RD-180 engines at a time when it imposed economic sanctions on Russia.

    Moreover, legislators passed a law requiring the United States to develop a domestically produced next-generation rocket propulsion system by 2019 in order to eliminate reliance on the Russian RD-180.

    However, in December 2015, Congress passed a budget that includes a provision allowing the United States to continue purchasing the RD-180 rocket engines.

    The US space program currently relies on Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines to power the booster rockets that carry its astronauts up to the International Space Station (ISS).

    Private companies, including SpaceX and Blue Origin, are developing rocket engines that could be used by the Pentagon in the future.

    Blue Origin has been developing BE-4 engines working on liquid oxygen and liquid methane since 2011. The flight tests are expected to take place in 2019.


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