USA have finally discarded Russian rocket engines


The US government’s uncertainty about buying Russian RD-180 engines, that are used for Atlas rockets, is finally resolved. It was decided to discard Russian engines.

Russian RD-180 were used in Atlas launch vehicles since 2000. Russian media wrote that Americans could not start production of these engines. However, “could not” was not the case, the United States just did not start the production, since buying them from Russia was significantly cheaper.

In 2014, RD-180 came under American sanctions against Russia. However, soon it became clear that there is no replacement for Russian RD-180 in the world market, and the US authorities allowed purchasing Russian engines again. At that time it was presented as USA’s surrender by Russian press.

But at the same time, with the resumption of purchases of RD-180, a program to develop their own engines was announced in the US, which was successfully completed is less than 2 years.

Now, the US government signed contracts with 2 American companies for the production of engines, replacing the RD-180. Under the contract, the company United Launch Services will receive $46 million for the development of the engine Vulcan BE-4. At the same time, $115 million were allocated to the company Aerojet Rocketdyne for future developments. It must design a prototype of a next-generation engine AR1.

The first engines will be released in 3 years. Until then, Atlases will fly at RD-180 that are currently in stock.