Orbital Sciences COTS Entry to Use Soviet-Era Engine

OSC's Taurus II rocket at Wallops Island.
OSC's Taurus II rocket at Wallops Island.

Aerojet Looking to Restart Production of NK-33 Engine
Space News

Aerojet is in talks with Russian propulsion firms to restart production of the Soviet-era NK-33 rocket engine that the Sacramento, Calif.-based propulsion company is modernizing for use on Orbital Sciences’ Taurus 2 medium-lift rocket.

Aerojet’s vice president of space systems, Julie Van Kleeck, said Aug. 27 that the two companies are weighing the benefits of restarting production of the 1960s engine in Russia, initiating a new line in the United States, or possibly doing both.

W’ere in discussions trying to understand one another’s demand and what the trigger points are and how production might be started in one place or the other,” Van Kleeck told Space News. “It’s a very active situation right now in terms of discussion.” 

Orbital Sciences is building the Taurus 2 rocket to launch an unmanned cargo tug called Cygnus that the Dulles, Va.-based company has been working on since early 2008, when it beat a dozen competitors to win a NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration contract worth $171 million.

Read the full story.