Author Topic: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US  (Read 230596 times)

Offline a_langwich

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #20 on: 08/28/2013 09:07 AM »
At the current flight manifest, we have enough RD-180's warehoused to last for several years. Now, with the Delta IV Common Booster Core program, the cost to launch the Delta IV (one of the reasons why Atlas V has been more popular) drops enough that the Delta IV can be ramped up to conserve the Atlas V engines.

There are multiple options available to address the loss of engines. The most developed of these is the Dynetics option.

The Dynetics option?  Are you referring to the new F-1A?  Of which there is only a gas generator tested?  And which is enormously different from any of the Russian engines which it would replace?  And so would require designing an entirely new launch vehicle, would require extensive analysis and testing, and would then be considered an entirely unproven new design?  Or is there a Dynetics option to produce a SC kerolox in the RD-180 thrust range, so that Atlas could be transitioned toward that?

As others have commented, the Delta IV is underpowered compared to Atlas.  I have seen no evidence that Delta IV prices are coming down, can you provide links for that?  The impression I've gotten is that ULA has been moving toward Atlas and away from Delta, except for the Heavy.

The odd twist here is that ULA really needs SpaceX to pull off their F9 1.1 launch, and the next few commercial ones, and get certified for DoD launches, because that gives ULA negotiating leverage.  They can say:  if we have to pay too much more, we can't compete with SpaceX on price.  And if you choose not to sell us the RD-180, you are just giving extra business volume to the company who is price-competitive with you on the world market.


Online ChrisWilson68

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #21 on: 08/28/2013 09:13 AM »
IMHO it has nothing to do with RF national security or any other political reasons, just pure business - statements like those are simply leverage to review LRE prices - according to Energomash, LRE RD-180 had been sold for a price that currently below cost of manufacturing (!)
From the article.

"In 2011 Russiaís Audit Chamber announced that the RD-180 rocket engines delivered to the US according to the 1996 contract were sold for only half of their real production value. The total loss in 2008-09 reached 880 million rubles (about $30 million) or 68 percent of all financial losses of NPO Energomash at the time, the Audit Chamber said."

So re-negotiating a fairer price for this hardware IE what they cost to make at least, would cut their losses by at least 68% of the companies losses.

LockMart got a very good deal for those engines and it seems they are overdue for a re-pricing.  :(

That's one interpretation.  Another would be this is a way to extract much, much higher prices, and set the floor of the negotiated price to 68% higher.  There is truth, and then there is what a price negotiator tells you about how your price will hurt his poor, starving children.

Yes, that's a good point.  We shouldn't take it as a given that Russia is losing so much money on each engine just because of these reports.  They might be influenced by a bargaining strategy, and they might be influenced by domestic politics (it's not that our domestic rocket business can't make money -- it's that the evil Americans are taking advantage of us and keeping us from making money).

Quote
I am amazed that after this much time the USAF or DoD has not thrown some money at PwR to study the engine and see what mfg it in the US would take (or at least to identify the tough parts, EG new or unfamiliar materials, or unusual mfg processes).
 

I think they did.  Perhaps now we will see whether those studies were perfunctory or not.

It's time for American engine makers--uh, THE American engine maker--to wake up.  This COULD be a very positive development to help re-invigorate their capabilities.

Actually, there are two American engine manufacturers.  Those Merlin 1D engines don't grow on trees.  While ULA and SpaceX are likely to both be hesitant to work with each other, if ULA had a compelling need for a new design to replace RD-180 and SpaceX looked like they could do it cheaper and better, and if it gave SpaceX a chance to jump-start development of an engine they'd like to have anyway, it's possible it would benefit both companies so much they'd agree to do it.

Offline Jim

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #22 on: 08/28/2013 09:59 AM »

I am amazed that after this much time the USAF or DoD has not thrown some money at PwR to study the engine and see what mfg it in the US would take (or at least to identify the tough parts, EG new or unfamiliar materials, or unusual mfg processes).
 

Was already done in the mid 2000'a

Offline DGH

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #23 on: 08/28/2013 10:33 AM »
http://rt.com/news/russian-rocket-engine-ban-039/

via Jeff Foust on Twitter, who has this to add:

Before people get too concerned about the RD-180 report, keep in mind that
1) it's just a report;
2) there's a stockpile of engines in US
3) the IP is in place to build RD-180s in the US (the original 90s-era plan). Re-engining the Atlas V isn't a likely near-term option.

--

Presumably this is about Syria.
There is a simple way for Russia to play this.
ULA plans to launch 8-10 Atlas V rockets a year over the next several years.
Russia need only deliver less than 8 engines a year to quickly put them in the driverís seat while still making money.

Does anyone know how many a year they are delivering?

Offline zt

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #24 on: 08/28/2013 12:01 PM »
http://rt.com/news/russian-rocket-engine-ban-039/

via Jeff Foust on Twitter, who has this to add:

Before people get too concerned about the RD-180 report, keep in mind that
1) it's just a report;
2) there's a stockpile of engines in US
3) the IP is in place to build RD-180s in the US (the original 90s-era plan). Re-engining the Atlas V isn't a likely near-term option.

--

Presumably this is about Syria.
There is a simple way for Russia to play this.
ULA plans to launch 8-10 Atlas V rockets a year over the next several years.
Russia need only deliver less than 8 engines a year to quickly put them in the driverís seat while still making money.

Does anyone know how many a year they are delivering?


you also need to know the size of the US stockpile and the realistic lead time for developing and qualifying the US manufacturing process.

Offline fregate

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #25 on: 08/28/2013 02:02 PM »
According to Energomash press-release
http://www.npoenergomash.ru/about/news/news2_1226.html
company shipped 60 LREs (mass produced, does not include test articles), and 45 of them already had been used to launch Atlas LVs. So, there are only 15 remaining (!)
"Selene, the Moon. Selenginsk, an old town in Siberia: moon-rocket  town" Vladimir Nabokov

Offline Linze

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #26 on: 08/28/2013 02:59 PM »
Come on people.  This isn't about business, this is about Syria. 

State politics often trump business interests, especially when the business is a state run enterprise.

So, no, it probably makes no business sense for the Russians to cut off sales to the US, but Russia doesn't have a lot of leverage over the US.  They're going to use what little leverage they have, wherever they have it.  If it does a little damage to the balance sheet of a small state-run enterprise, it's just the price to be paid.

Don't be shocked if Orbital's supply is similarly threatened.  In Orbital's case, a lack of supply could potentially doom the company.

Even if the cutoff is short term, it will hurt ULA.  Supply uncertainty at a time when their pricing model is being decimated does not bode well for ULA's future.

Russians lose, ULA loses, SpaceX is the only winner.  If they're smart, and they are, SpaceX will now double down on heavy.
« Last Edit: 08/28/2013 03:03 PM by Linze »

Offline Danderman

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #27 on: 08/28/2013 03:18 PM »


Don't be shocked if Orbital's supply is similarly threatened.  In Orbital's case, a lack of supply could potentially doom the company.



Orbital's supply is in Sacramento. Are you suggesting that the Russians are planning an attack on Sacramento?

Offline Jim

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #28 on: 08/28/2013 03:49 PM »


Don't be shocked if Orbital's supply is similarly threatened.  In Orbital's case, a lack of supply could potentially doom the company.



Orbital's supply is in Sacramento. Are you suggesting that the Russians are planning an attack on Sacramento?


And their tanks are made in the Ukraine

Offline Linze

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #29 on: 08/28/2013 04:13 PM »

Orbital's supply is in Sacramento. Are you suggesting that the Russians are planning an attack on Sacramento?


Only suggesting they could be restricted from receiving any replenishment of their existing supply, including but not limited to spares. 

With or without any supplier issues, Orbital's future as a primary launch provider seems iffy.  They're probably incapable of being price competitive in the medium range, let along 10 years out.  They're smart folks, one supposes they'll start evolving their business.

This misses the main point, which is that this news came directly from the Russian government's primary mouthpiece to the west.  This is about Syria and nothing else.  This is a relatively small business as compared to Russia's big earners, oil, gas, raw materials, arms.

It's easy to see them risking, even sacrificing it for political gain.  If this comes directly from the Kremlin, it's unlikely there will be much internal push back.
« Last Edit: 08/28/2013 04:15 PM by Linze »

Offline Jim

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #30 on: 08/28/2013 04:16 PM »

Orbital's supply is in Sacramento. Are you suggesting that the Russians are planning an attack on Sacramento?


Only suggesting they could be restricted from receiving any replenishment of their existing supply, including but not limited to spares. 

With or without any supplier issues, Orbital's future as a primary launch provider seems iffy.  They're probably incapable of being price competitive in the medium range, let along 10 years out.  They're smart folks, one supposes they'll start evolving their business.

This misses the main point, which is that this news came directly from the Russian government's primary mouthpiece to the west.  This is about Syria and nothing else.  This is a relatively small business as compared to Russia's big earners, oil, gas, raw materials, arms.

It's easy to see them risking, even sacrificing it for political gain.  If this comes directly from the Kremlin, it's unlikely there will be much internal push back.

Too many unsubstantiated statements to even bother pointing out

Offline Linze

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #31 on: 08/28/2013 04:30 PM »

Orbital's supply is in Sacramento. Are you suggesting that the Russians are planning an attack on Sacramento?


Only suggesting they could be restricted from receiving any replenishment of their existing supply, including but not limited to spares. 

With or without any supplier issues, Orbital's future as a primary launch provider seems iffy.  They're probably incapable of being price competitive in the medium range, let along 10 years out.  They're smart folks, one supposes they'll start evolving their business.

This misses the main point, which is that this news came directly from the Russian government's primary mouthpiece to the west.  This is about Syria and nothing else.  This is a relatively small business as compared to Russia's big earners, oil, gas, raw materials, arms.

It's easy to see them risking, even sacrificing it for political gain.  If this comes directly from the Kremlin, it's unlikely there will be much internal push back.

Too many unsubstantiated statements to even bother pointing out

When reading political tea leaves, conjecture is part and parcel.

Clearly the Russians are angry.  Clearly they seem to be making threats regarding these exports.

It's unclear whether they would go through with those threats, but it's unarguable that this is a tiny business sector within the greater Russian export economy.  It's also unarguable that it is fully within Putin's power to restrict these sales.

It would be cavalier to ignore the true potential for a halt in shipments.  Though a good guess might have the Russians announcing a shipment halt to start in 2015, then rescinding it before that date arrives.  Such a 'paper' cessation still could have real impacts on ULA's business.
« Last Edit: 08/28/2013 04:31 PM by Linze »

Offline Jim

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #32 on: 08/28/2013 04:43 PM »
One has to know how to read the tea leaves to make the conjecture
The points on Orbital are also nonsense

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #33 on: 08/28/2013 04:52 PM »
I bet the whole thing is just posturing, but it does help SpaceX's stock go up a little bit.
But they're just bluffing.

And really the US National Security would be just fine, even if we would have to spend a little bit more (but not a huge deal with multipliers greater than 1). We have Delta IV for a reason.
« Last Edit: 08/28/2013 04:53 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #34 on: 08/28/2013 05:28 PM »
One has to know how to read the tea leaves to make the conjecture
The points on Orbital are also nonsense

Only the failure of ATK could cause Orbital issues.

Aerojet has enough NK-33s on hand to allow Orbital to complete the current Antares launch contracts.

I would imagine that Orbital would go back to a solid first stage for launching Cygnus in the future if a suitable replacement for the AJ-26/NK-33 can't be found.

Offline USFdon

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #35 on: 08/28/2013 06:29 PM »
AEHF and MUOS, for example, require the Atlas V 531 and 551, respectively.
Many of NASA deep space SVs (e.g. MRO, MSL, New Horizons) require the Atlas V 441, 451, 541 or 551.

The Delta IV M+, even with 4 solids, does not have the performance of the 3, 4, or 5 solids based Atlas V.

Per the updated Delta IV planners guide, up to 8 GEM-60's can be added "relatively" easily (might need to ask Jim on that one)... closing the gap between the the heavier Atlas V variants and the Delta IV Medium +'s. Given how many launches were predicted for the Delta IV during its development, I can't see how it couldn't be ramped up if need be...

Offline Nickolai

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #36 on: 08/28/2013 06:41 PM »


Don't be shocked if Orbital's supply is similarly threatened.  In Orbital's case, a lack of supply could potentially doom the company.



Orbital's supply is in Sacramento. Are you suggesting that the Russians are planning an attack on Sacramento?


Well, there goes the element of surprise  ;D ;D ;D

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #37 on: 08/28/2013 07:04 PM »
Come on people.  This isn't about business, this is about Syria. 
I don't think so.  Russian discussion along these lines was raised a year or two ago.  In addition, why aren't we hearing threats to stop hauling U.S. astronauts to ISS, etc.?

In my opinion, this is about money.  Energomash is stuck with a bad deal. 

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Antares

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #38 on: 08/28/2013 07:45 PM »
It's about money.  The timing is about Syria.  The Bear likes to mess with American doves.

SpaceX will never sell engines to anyone, only missions.

The odd twist here is that ULA really needs SpaceX to pull off their F9 1.1 launch, and the next few commercial ones, and get certified for DoD launches, because that gives ULA negotiating leverage.  They can say:  if we have to pay too much more, we can't compete with SpaceX on price.  And if you choose not to sell us the RD-180, you are just giving extra business volume to the company who is price-competitive with you on the world market.

Most thought-provoking post I've read in a long time.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #39 on: 08/28/2013 07:48 PM »
SpaceX will never sell engines to anyone, only missions.

They did at one time say they would be happy to sell components like Dracos to NASA.
We will be vic-toooooo-ri-ous!!!

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