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US will need up to 10 years to replace Russia’s RD-181 engines — Russian supplier

January 16, 2015, 15:36 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russia's manufacturer NPO Energomash is to provide 60 new RD-181 rocket engines for US company Orbital Sciences under a contract worth around $1 billion
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© AP / Chris O'Meara

MOSCOW, January 16. /TASS/. The United States will need up to 10 years and between $3 billion and $5 billion to create its own rocket engine similar to Russia’s RD-181, the president of RKK Energia space corporation said on Friday.

“If we speak about the creation of an engine in the US, then any power is capable of this, but the question is why. I estimate that this will demand around $3 billion or $5 billion and seven or ten years,” Vladimir Solntsev said.

He said no one has “abolished or killed” international cooperation.

Earlier on Friday, Solntsev told the Izvestia newspaper that Russia's manufacturer NPO Energomash is to provide 60 new RD-181 rocket engines for US company Orbital Sciences under a contract worth around $1 billion.

The RD-181 engines will be used for the first stage of the Antares rockets, manufactured by Orbital Sciences. These rockets earlier used AJ-26 engines which were made on the basis of Soviet NK-33.

Russia and US in talks on extra contact for 30 RD-180 rocket engines

The president of the corporation said Russia’s RKK Energia space corporation is in talks on signing a contract on providing the US with additional 30 RD-180 rocket engines to be used for Atlas-5 rockets.

“A contract is being discussed on increasing the supplies of engines. And that's another 30 engines at least,” Solntsev told Rossiya-24 TV channel.

The current contract envisages supplies of 24 RD-180 engines up to 2018, he said. “We are fulfilling the contract irreproachably,” Solntsev added.

Russia’s experts have adapted RD-180 engines for manned launching programs of the United States. “Atlas-5 can now have a new history and a new face,” Solntsev said.

RKK Energia space corporation is a controlling structure of NPO Energomash, which primarily develops and produces liquid propellant rocket engines.

A draft law on allocations for military needs for the fiscal year of 2015 passed by the Senate of the Congress in December had an amendment banning further purchases of Russian RD-180 engines for Atlas rockets.

The document specifies that $220 million would be provided for development of a US rocket engine to replace Russian RD-180s.

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