Russia's RD-180 rocket engines lose competition to BE-4?

Russia to send last RD-180 rocket engines to USA

Russia is sending last RD-180 rocket engines to the United States, Igor Arbuzov, CEO of Energomash Scientific and Production Association, told RIA Novosti.

“These engines are ready, but the coronavirus pandemic does not give us an opportunity to ship them to the United States. We are shipping them this year. They are the last engines under the current contract,” the official said. 

According to the information posted on the public procurement website, Russia is shipping six RD-180 power units to the United States this year.

In July 2020, Blue Origin delivered the first BE-4 rocket engine to the United Launch Alliance (ULA). This is not a serial, but a test engine. 

In January 2018, Energomash CEO, Igor Arbuzov, said that more than a half of the company's profit  comes from RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines shipments to the United States.

  • It is worthy of note that two single-chamber BE-4 engines installed on the first stage of the Vulcan launch vehicle (Atlas 6) are believed to develop greater thrust than one two-chamber RD-180 of the first stage of Atlas 5.
  • Unlike the kerosene-powered RD-180, the BE-4 uses methane.
  • The Vulcan rocket with the US-made BE-4 engines is to replace the Atlas 5 launch vehicle that currently run on the Russian RD-180.

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Author`s name Editorial Team
Editor Dmitry Sudakov