Russia to Export RD-180 Rocket Engines For USA’s Atlas Rockets

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Russia’s Roscosmos will export engines to power Lockheed Martin’s Atlas III and Atlas V launch vehicles, with the latter currently the only US-made launch vehicle capable of sending heavy payloads into orbit.

Roscosmos subsidiary Energomash is preparing to deliver three more RD-180 engines for use with Atlas-5 launch vehicles, the company said in a statement Friday.

“A commission has completed its work at NPO Energomash JSC on accepting the next batch of RD-180 rocket engines manufactured at the enterprise. Representatives from Pratt & Whitney, United Launch Alliance and AMROSS have signed the paperwork on three commercial engines,” the company said in a press release.

These companies as well as representatives from NASA and the US Air Force were said to have spent two weeks inspecting the engines and the associated accessories, spare parts and tools, as well as the accompanying documentation.

Energomash has already shipped three RD-180 rocket engines to the US in June of this year, taking the total number of these engines delivered to the US to 116.

Since 1999, Lockheed Martin Atlas III and Atlas V launch vehicles have made at least 86 flights using the RD-180.

The Russian rocket engine maker also produces the RD-181 (modified version of RD-191, derived from RD-180) for the Antares, an expendable launch system developed by Northrop Grumman subsidiary Orbital Sciences Corporation.

India has expressed interest in the RD-180 series of engines, possibly for its manned space programme, reports Sputnik.

Economic sanctions that aim to impede RD-180 engine sales to the US suffered setback after the Senate permitted US companies to continue buying them until at least 2022. Roscosmos has already indicated that it would use the RD-180 aboard the Soyuz 2.1 launch vehicle if deliveries to the US were stopped.