Russian Engines May Power Antares Rocket Tasked to Ferry Cargo to the ISS

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Russia’s Roscosmos state-owned space agency has received a nod from the government to kick start negotiations with a U.S.-based company on the supply of RD-181 engines to power the Antares rocket.

A decree pertaining to the same was signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. It was posted on Russia’s official web portal of legislative information on Friday.

Roscosmos will now oversee negotiations between NPO Energomash and U.S.-based Orbital Sciences involving the supply of a RD181M liquid-fuel rocket engine to be used on the Antares rocket. The rocket will later deliver cargo to the International Space Station and to launch research and commercial spacecraft.

Signing a contract will be possible if all intellectual property issues are settled with the participation of the Russian Defense Ministry and Roscosmos.

Russia also wants the U.S. to assure that its engines will not be used by the latter to power defense and military spacecraft.

The RD-181 engine was designed for use in the Antares rocket. It is a single combustion chamber rocket engine with afterburning of oxidizing gas, fueled by a kerosene / LOX mixture. It was certified in May 2015, according to the Russian media.

The first delivery of RD-181 engines to the U.S. took place in the summer of 2015. On October 18, 2016, the first Antares-230 carrier rocket with its first stage powered by RD-181 engines was successfully launched from the Wallops Flight Facility in the US