MOSCOW, June 6. /TASS/. The firing tests of Russia’s RD-181 engines held before the launch of an Antares carrier rocket on May 21 this year proved the possibility to use them multiple times, Chief Designer of Energomash Research and Production Association Pyotr Lyovochkin said on Wednesday.
The tests of the carrier rocket’s first stage, which involved checking the joint operation of all the systems and the engine, lasted 30 seconds and took place at the launch site of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (Virginia, USA). After the tests, the parameters of the operation of all the rocket’s systems, including the engines, were tested and the condition of the hardware was diagnosed.
"We carried out this work as part of our contractual obligations with Orbital ATK. So, thanks to our foreign partners and the Antares carrier rocket, the entire world has been able to become clearly convinced in the possibility of the multiple uses of our engines. Although we have the experience of creating reusable engines (The RD-170 was certified for the 10-time use), today this was demonstrated for the first time as part of a carrier rocket," Lyovochkin said.
The RD-181 engine has been developed and certified for the Antares carrier rocket. This is a single-chamber liquid-propellant rocket engine with the afterburning of the oxidizing generator gas. The engine uses kerosene as fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer. In 2014, the engine’s design documentation was issued and already in May 2015 its certification was successfully completed.
In the summer of 2015, the first commercial RD-181 engines were delivered to the United States and on October 18, 2016 an Antares-230 carrier rocket with RD-181 engines developed and produced by Energomash and mounted on the rocket’s first stage successfully blasted off from the spaceport on Wallops Island. By now, three successful launches of Antares rockets with RD-181 engines have been carried out.