The user acceptance commission has given the green light to a batch of RD-180 rocket engines bound for the US, announced NPO Energomash, the Russian rocket manufacturer.
“In June, representatives of Pratt & Whitney, United Launch Alliance and RD Amross signed the forms for three engines. Over the course of two weeks, representatives of the aforementioned companies carried out an external inspection of the engines and the SPTA, and [filled in] the accompanying documentation,” the Energomash’s announcement reads.
The company noted that this is the first shipment of engines in 2019.
The RD-180 engines were developed by Energomash in the mid 1990s on the basis of the Soviet-era RD-170, which at the time was the most powerful rocket engine in the world, and was used on the super heavy-lift launch vehicle “Energia”. Russia exports RD-180s to the US, where they are used in launches of the Atlas family of rockets.
At the start of April, US Space Commander John Raymond announced Washington’s plans to stop buying RD-180s after 2022. He said that the discontinuation has been prescribed by law and will be complied with in a timely manner. He also commented that the US should pursue its strategy to increase its competitiveness in providing satellite launches. In September last year, Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin remarked that Roscosmos has become highly dependent on exporting rocket engines to the US, since these contracts provide the income needed for Russia’s space sector.