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Russia ships RD-180 engines for US Atlas space programme


RD-180 test firing by NASA. A file photo.

MOSCOW (PTI): Russia Wednesday shipped four RD-180 booster engines for the US Atlas space launch vehicles under a long-term contract with manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

"Four five-tonne engines in special containers were loaded on trailers and ferried to the Sheremetyevo international airport, from where they will be loaded on board an An-124-100 cargo aircraft," an official of Russian manufacturer Energomash told Rossiya 24 channel.

Energomash has produced 46 RD-180 engines for the American Atlas rockets so far.

The RD-180 liquid-fuel engine is considered to be the best in its class.

After a global tender in 1990s, the US General Dynamics Space Systems Division (later purchased by Lockheed Martin) chose the RD-180 for use in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) and the Atlas programme.

The RD-180 was first deployed on the Atlas III carrier rocket in May 2000 and powered 28 Atlas-family delivery vehicles since then, RIA Novosti said.

According to earlier reports, another US Aerojet company is negotiating the deal on the purchase of the Russian NK-33 engines developed for the Soviet lunar programme in 1960s.

The new deal is being contemplated for the new space launch vehicle Taurus II under development by Orbital, which has contract with NASA for eight cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS) from 2011 through 2015.

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Russia  spacecraft  US  

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