Despite the confrontation and sanctions, the US continues to order Russian-made rocket engines. The US government approved the purchase of new RD-181M models. Plans to do without Russian engines by 2022 have proven unrealistic.
“The US government has a contract between NPO Energomasch [Anm.: НПО Энергомаш, Teil der staatlichen Unternehmens Roskosmos] and the US company Orbital Sciences LLC, “said the head of the Roscosmos press service Vladimir Ustimenko on his Telegram channel on Tuesday.” This means that there will be new deliveries of engines and new launches of American missiles with Russian ‘hearts’ will give, “he wrote.
He praised the Roskosmos engineers for their excellent work. The quality of their products is so excellent that the USA is ready to buy them despite all the restrictions. The RD-181M engines will be delivered – which are a further development stage of the previously delivered RD-180 engines.
RD-181M builds on its immediate predecessor RM-181. Its analogue RD-191M is installed in the Russian launchers – for example in the pilotable version of the Angara A5P heavy rocket.
“This contract hopes for a possible normalization of the relationship, in which business and efficiency will play a more important role than current (political) decisions that have nothing to do with space,” added Ustimenko.
The news came as no surprise to Russian industry insiders. The US decision is proof that Washington cannot do without Russian technology, commented engineer and journalist Dmitri Konanychin on the new contract.
“When the Americans started testing the much touted BE4 engines, it probably turned out to be not that reliable,” he noted. The great US engineering power cannot do without the solutions that Russia has in this area of technology.
Since 1999, the United States had received more than a hundred RD-180 engines from Russia. In recent years, however, the US Congress has increasingly called for a move away from reliance on Russian technology. In early 2020, the Pentagon announced that by 2022 the United States would be able to completely “break out of dependence” on the RD-180.
But both the analysts of the US Congress and Russian experts had assessed this goal as extremely unrealistic. According to the report by the US Congress Research Service published in February 2020, the United States will not be able to replace the Russian RD-180 rocket engine on its own until at least 2030. According to the new contract, the successor models of the RD-180 are now finding their way overseas.
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