Govt approves talks with US on sales of Russian RD-181 rocket engines

AMUR REGION, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 27, 2018: A Soyuz-2.1a rocket booster with a Fregat-M upper stage block lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome to deliver Russia's Kanopus-V No 5 and No 6 remote sensing satellites and 26 foreign spacecraft to orbit. Yuri Smityuk/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MOSCOW, Jul 17, 2021, TASS. The Russian government has given the green light to negotiations with the US-based company Orbital Sciences LLC on sales of Russia’s RD-181 rocket engines, according to a decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and posted on Russia’s official web portal of legislative information on Friday (Jul 16), TASS reported.

The decree accepts a proposal by Russia’s state-run space corporation Roscosmos “to hold negotiations between NPO Energomash named after Academician V P Glushko and Orbital Sciences LLC (United States of America) to sign a contract on using the RD181M liquid-fuel rocket engine in the Antares rocket, to 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.

Also, the US partner must guarantee that Antares rockets powered by Russian-made engines will not be used for launches of 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.

The first delivery of RD-181 engines to the United States 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.

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