World’s Most Powerful Engine to be Digitalized in October

RD-171MV engine (Credit: NPO Energomash)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — NPO Energomash (part of Roscosmos) is finalizing the works to digitalize the RD-171MV rocket engine design documentation. The engine is to be used in the Soyuz-5 carrier rocket. The works to create digital design documentation have been underway since May 2019.

The enterprise design bureau created a special workgroup for the project – all the details have been modelled, large and small assemblies have been completed, the final assembly is almost over.

“We plan to finish the works in the end of September – beginning of October. Beside 3D modelling we create the fully digitalized design documentation with all the information necessary for production, control and handing over the ready products,” – says Oleg Tveriye, NPO Energomash digital technologies introduction department chief.

Digital design documentation will allow controlling the production process at all stages and effectively manage it. This will substantially cut the production period and automatize many processes from details and assembly units manufacturing to the engine assembly and firing trials.

After finishing the works with the RD-171MV engine, the company’s engineers will start digitalizing the RD-191 engine design documentation used for the Angara carrier rocket, the works on which are to be finished in the end of 2020.

RD-171MV is a modernized version of the RD-170/171 engine designed by NPO Energomash in 1976-1986. The modernized engine has already been acknowledged as the world’s most powerful – with its own weight of 10 tons its thrust is more than 800 tons.

RSC Energia Seals Deal With Orbital Sciences for Engine Delivery

Energia_logoMOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) –– The President of RSC Energia (which is a part of the United Rocket and Space Corporation) Vladimir Solntsev and General Director of Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) David Thompson  have signed a direct contract for the delivery to the US of engines made by NPO Energomash (a subsidiary of RSC Energia).

The contract value is approximately US$1 billion (the exact figure is a commercial secret). Altogether, Russia is to deliver to the US 60 RD-181 engines – the customer is going to receive the first two engines as early as June 2015. The contract was concluded directly with the Orbital Sciences Corporation.

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Angara 5 Launch Successful

First Angara-A5 launch vehicle rolled out to the pad. (Credit: Khrunichev)
First Angara A5 launch vehicle rolled out to the pad. (Credit: Khrunichev)

Russian media are reporting that the first flight test of the new Angara 5 booster was successful on Wednesday from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

The rocket consisted of five Universal Rocket Modules (URM) powered by RD-191 engines clustered as the first stage. Upper stages used on other boosters were to put a dummy payload into geostationary orbit. It’s not clear whether that effort was successful.

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Russia to Test Angara 5 on Dec. 23

First Angara-A5 launch vehicle rolled out to the pad. (Credit: Khrunichev)
First Angara A5 launch vehicle rolled out to the pad. (Credit: Khrunichev)

Russia hopes to cap off nearly 20 years of development work with a successful launch of its new Angara A5 rocket on Dec 23.

If all goes well, the new booster will place a dummy payload into orbit. It will be the first orbital launch for the Angara rocket, which was approved in 1995. A smaller version of the rocket, the Angara A1.2, conducted a suborbital flight test in July.

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Orbital to Replace Old Russian Engines With New Russian Engines on Antares

An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket is seen as it launches from Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Thursday, January 9, 2014, Wallops Island, VA. Antares is carrying the Cygnus spacecraft on a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Orbital-1 mission is Orbital Sciences' first contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA. Cygnus is carrying science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and other hardware to the space station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket is seen as it launches from Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Thursday, January 9, 2014, Wallops Island, VA. Antares is carrying the Cygnus spacecraft on a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Orbital-1 mission is Orbital Sciences’ first contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA. Cygnus is carrying science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and other hardware to the space station. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

I guess Orbital Sciences Corporation can kiss any defense launches goodbye for its Antares launch vehicle. The company plans to replace the rocket’s Russian surplus AJ-26 engines with new Russian engines they hope won’t blow up during flight or be banned from export at some point in the future.

Designated the RD-181, the new engine will be used on Antares in shipsets of two to accommodate as closely as possible the two-engine configuration built around the AJ-26 engines supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne, Orbital Sciences managers said Dec. 16.

A descendant of the RD-171 that powers the Ukrainian-built Zenit launch vehicle, the RD-181 will be manufactured in the same Khimki factory that builds the RD-180 used on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V. It closely resembles the RD-191 on Russia’s new Angara launcher and the RD-151 that powers South Korea’s Naro-1 launch vehicle.

In testing at Energomash, “the RD-181s have seen more than two times the Antares flight duration to date, and if you take a look at some of the heritage of this engine, the RD-151 and the RD-191 combined have over 10 hr. of test time for their configuration testing,” said Mark Pieczynski, Orbital’s vice president for space launch strategic development.

Like the AJ-26, the single-thrust-chamber, single-nozzle RD-181 uses liquid oxygen and refined petroleum (RP) as propellants, generating a sea-level performance in the two-engine configuration of 864,000 lb. thrust with a specific impulse of 311.9 sec. That is equivalent to the twin-nozzle RD-180, but the two engines are a better fit with the Antares main stage, built for Orbital by Ukraine’s Yuzhmash.

Congress has just voted to prohibit ULA from using Russian RD-180 engines in its Atlas V booster due to deteriorating relations with that country. That would seem to limit Orbital’s ability to bid for defense launch contracts unless there is a change in policy.

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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.

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