Ukraine/Crimean annexation crisis: US Government to examine building RD-180 rockets in USA rather than Russia18 Mar 2014, 15:03 UTC
As our analysis predicted following Russia’s attempted annexation of the Crimean part of Ukraine, the US Government is now concerned that a Russian-built rocket engine is used to power United Launch Alliance (ULA)-operated Atlas V launch vehicle, one of two types the US Department of Defence currently relies to launch its satellites.
While US rocket technology is known to be superior in LOx (liquid oxygen)/Liquid Hydrogen cryogenic rocket engines, the Russians are known to have more efficient rocket cycles for first stage LOx/Kerosene burning engines. The RD-180 uses an oxygen-rich preburner in a high pressure staged combustion cycle. This was the reason that the Russian made RD-180 was selected to power the first stage of the Atlas V. The engines are officially supplied (actually imported) by RD AMROSS which was originally a joint US Russian firm which originally consisted of the US rocket firm Pratt and Whitney/Rocketdyne (now part of Aerojet Rocketdyne) and the Russian rocket firm Energomash.
The RD-180 on test. The engine uses a twin combustion chamber/twin nozzle arrangement.. Courtesy: NASA
According to Space News, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has openly called for a review of the decision to use Russian-built engines. In a subsequent ...