ULA: Judge Lifts Injunction on Russian Engine Buys

ULA_logoPreliminary Injunction Lifted – ULA Purchase of RD-180 Engines Complies with Sanctions

Statement by United Launch Alliance

“The U.S. Court of Federal Claims lifted the preliminary injunction on May 8, 2014. United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) purchase of the RD-180 engines from our suppliers and partners, RD AMROSS and NPO Energomash, clearly complies with the sanctions against Russia.

“The letters submitted by U.S. Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce explicitly stated that NPO Energomash is not subject to any of the current sanctions and that ULA’s continued purchase of the RD-180 does not directly or indirectly contravene the Ukraine sanctions.

“Sadly, SpaceX’s frivolous lawsuit caused unnecessary distraction of the executive and judicial branch and increased tensions with Russia during a sensitive national security crisis.

“SpaceX’s actions are self-serving, irresponsible and have threatened the U.S.’s involvement with the International Space Station and other companies and projects working with Russian State entities.

“We continue to hope that SpaceX will revisit its underlying lawsuit and the merits of its case. The fact remains, even today SpaceX is not certified to launch even one mission under the block buy contract — a contract that was authorized and announced more than two years ago, without objection by SpaceX, and is saving the U.S. taxpayers over $4 billion.”

  • Chief Galen Tyrol

    Well, that didn’t last long. Domestic, closed cycle, kerolox engine…is that too much to ask?

  • Bob

    I can’t believe they will even make that $4Billion claim. For $4B, SpaceX could execute the entire block buy. Since the actual value of the contract is probably somewhere around $16 billion, the block buy is costing the taxpayer $12 billion.

  • Jeff Smith

    At Russian prices? Yes. 🙂

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Two big issues to contend with when contemplating a new rocket engine:
    1) Is it small enough so that it can be throttled down to land the vehicle/booster/stage
    2) How much does it cost to operate – this is the product of several factors – cost to develop, cost to manufacture, cost of fuel, how many times can it be reused

    The fact is that a large kerosene engine, similar to the RD-180, is not designed for reusable launchers, is not designed to minimise operating costs, cannot be landed and so is not designed for reuse. Such an engine is not designed for the future, it is designed for the past.

  • JIM

    Does ULA really think they stand a chance in the long run ? I’d stop acting so arrogant and take a deep look at myself if I were them.

  • windbourne

    SpaceX is proving otherwise.

  • Stuart

    Surprised they didn’t just say… “Its un American to buy Russian rocket engines!”

  • Jeff Smith

    Michael said “closed cycle”. Every SpaceX engine thus far has been open cycle. If I were SpaceX, I’d stay with the open cycle, they’re very well understood and aren’t really inexpensive. How many cars have engines that recycle their own exhaust gas into the cylinder for just a little bit more power? An open cycle will probably be MUCH easier to achieve reusability on too.


  • Kapitalist

    1945 US share of world GDP was at least 35%. Today it is about 22% and still shrinking. And its share of advanced industries certainly has decreased even more. US companies need global cooperation to prosper now more than ever. These kinds of technologies require involvment of specialized industries from all over the world. Stopping trade with the number two space exploration power of the world, Russia, is a self defeating strategy. As is already the ITAR trade blockade against space exploration power number three, China. The US is hugely over estimating their self sufficiency. Well, at least in rethorics, hopefully not so much in action.

  • Solartear

    In 1945 most of the world’s leading industrial nations had their industrial capacity destroyed by WW2, with the US mostly untouched. Of course it’s going to have a much smaller share after the others recover.

  • Kapitalist


    That’s why the golden 1950s dream, which still seems to go on in part of the US today, is not applicable anymore. The US cannot today boycott any significant part of the rest of the world without severe repercussions. Boycott Russia and the US space industry will largely collapse. Boycott China and the dollar will become worthless. I hope that the Americans understand their precarious situation and avoid running into devastation blindly. The rest of the world relies on your industries, please don’t destroy them!

  • windbourne

    Hmm. How is us that Dependant on Russian space? We really are not. Several companies are Dependant but that is not america.
    And as to blocking China, it would be in our best interest to insist that China obey their treaties and WTO, rather than to allow the current situation to continue.

  • windbourne

    I think that u mean that it is unamerican to NOT buy Russian engines. After all, that is what ula, osc, and most house Rs push.

  • windbourne

    They have a lot of work to do, but they will survive.

  • windbourne

    Closed or open really does not matter. What matters is economics of the launch system. And if spaceX can blow the doors off everybody, then obviously others can do it as well

  • Kapitalist

    The industrialization of China is lowering prices for US consumers and industries. It is great for the US and for the rest of the world! Political restrictions against cooperation in space is harming human space exploration and US industry. Treaties like the WHO only harm trade, free trade is what exists when there are no political treaties. Competition between governments reduce the power of governments. And the US is obviously dependant on Russias ability to send astronauts to LEO and on Russian rocket engines. How many commercial satellites are not launched by Russian rockets because they are competitive? The governments destruction of that part of US industry will only make Americans poorer and the US ever more irrelevant in the world economy. You’re bankrupt, remember? Your wars and espionage have turned the EU, Russia, China and the Middle East to your enemies for no good reason. What will you do when they all make the dollar worthless by stop using it? It is not 1945 any more.

  • Stuart

    You are correct, in my haste I did forget the NOT. Sadly I have just demonstrated how international incidents begin. Thankyou for spotting my error.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    I agree with windbourne, I don’t think the open or closed cycle is the issue. Closed cycle is more complex to develop, but results in improved peformance. Hydrogen could be argued to place a greater temperature risk to the turbos. Kerosene might have sooting issues. Yet again, methane could well be the sweet-spot in terms of reusability.

    For launching to LEO (or GTO), the performance, and thus fuel economy of open cycle is of no particular consequence. But for going further, such as to Mars, the extra development cost of closed cycle would be well worth it.