Energomash Test Fires New RD-193 Engine

NPO Energomash says it completed the fifth live firing of its new RD-193 experimental rocket engine last week, completing the first phase of a project that could have impacts on the launch industry in Russia and the United States.

The new 200-ton thrust, liquid oxygen-kerosene engine is an upgraded version of the RD-191 engine that incorporates a number of new welds and other improvements. It is 300 kilograms (661 pounds) lighter and 760 millimeters (30 inches) shorter than the RD-191 engine, which will be used in the Angara family of rockets set to fly next year. The RD-193 can be attached to gimbals or fixed to the body of the rocket.

During the five test firings, the engine successfully ran for 678 seconds (11 minutes, 18 seconds). After the final test on Oct. 16, engineers planned to disassemble the engine to check for defects and damage before continuing with the test program. The evaluation will be used to determine whether any design or manufacturing changes are required.

Energomash, which is building the RD-193 with its own funds, sees the engine as eventually powering the Soyuz-2.1v rocket, a stripped down version of the traditional launch vehicle designed for light payloads. That rocket, which is set to make its inaugural flight next year, will be initially powered by NK-33 engines left over from the canceled Soviet manned lunar program of the 1970’s. The RD-193 could replace those engines if officials decided not to restart production of the NK-33 engine. It could also be used for other variants of the Soyuz.

The experimental RD-193 propulsion system could serve as the basis of a new RD-181 engine for the first stage of “foreign launch vehicles.”  The company has not been specific about which foreign vehicles. However, Anatoly Zak of RussianSpaceWeb.com says this statement could be a reference to United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, which is powered by Energomash’s RD-180 engine.

The RD-193 program is also designed to test propulsion modes for Russia’s Reusable Space Rocket System. Energomash is coordinating this work with the Keldysh Research Center, which is responsible for advanced rocket propulsion development.

  • Does anyone happen to know if it has the 30% throttle capabilities? Thanks.

  • The biggest feature of the new engine is the removal of the trademark throat sylphon that connects the combustin chamber and the nozzle. In the RD-171 architecture, chambers remain fixed, while the nozzles gimball. Removal of this feature requires gimballing the whole engine.

    As for vehicles to which these new engines are intended, Energomash’s fantasy ran wild. I have a photograph of their official presentation that includes RD-175 powering NASA SLS. No kidding. The NK-33 replacement we’re talking about here is officially slated to power Soyuz-2.1v descendants as well as Antares.

  • Also from the same presentation: RD-181 is slated for Antares, replacing TWO NK-33; RD-180 continues for Atlas with no changes; RD-180M is to be man-rated (by detuning), could be used at Atlas, but not specified; RD-175 is intended for both SLS and Energiya-K; RD-193 replaces NK-33 as per the above article. In general, all 4-chamber variants have 17x specifier, 1-chamber 19x, 2-chamber 18x. The only exception is the detuned one-off RD-191 renamed into RD-151 for KSLV-1 use.

  • Thanks. Frankenrockets. What else could it be?

  • Pete:

    Now that you mention it, the RD-181 replacing the AJ-26 (ne NK-33) makes more sense that it replacing the RD-180. With manned flights of the Atlas V upcoming and the RD-180 working very well, they’d be reluctant to change.

    Thanks for clarifying all this.