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    Russian RD-180 rocket engine

    How Russian RD-180 Engines Could Be Used After US Halts Purchases

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    Russian RD-180 engines can be installed on new domestic carrier rockets after the United States stops procuring these engines for its Atlas space launch vehicles, Boris Katorgin, a former general director and general designer of NPO Energomash corporation in 1991-2005, told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to Katorgin, the United States will eventually swap out Russian engines for domestically produced versions, however, the current US space industry "rush" is best explained on political grounds, and in the case of normalization of bilateral relations, US purchases of the Russian engines could continue for years.

    "I think that, of course, these engines will be used at the new [Russian] heavy and even super heavy rockets. Now we are talking about the creation of a carrier that would immediately give us an advantage in terms of time, all technical solutions and finances, because today we have already gained the most important competitive advantage — ready, functioning, successfully operating engines… which will remain the best in the world for a long time," Katorgin said.

    In March, the head of Russia's space corporation Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, told Sputnik that BE-4 rocket engines developed by the Blue Origin company would eventually replace Russia's RD-180 used on US Atlas space launch vehicles. Blue Origin has been developing BE-4 engines using liquid oxygen and liquid methane since 2011. The flight tests are expected to take place in 2019.

    US Atlas launch vehicles have been using RD-180 engines since 2000.

    In 2014, the US Congress strictly limited future purchases of Russian RD-180 engines at a time when it imposed economic sanctions on Russia. Legislators passed a law requiring the United States to develop a domestically produced next-generation rocket propulsion system by 2019 so as not to rely on the RD-180s.

    However, in December 2015, the US Congress passed a budget that includes a provision allowing the country to continue buying the Russian RD-180 rocket engines.


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