Author Topic: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US  (Read 230578 times)

Offline baldusi

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #40 on: 08/28/2013 08:28 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.
NASA is not ULA.

Offline simonbp

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.

Agree on both accounts.

Are RD-180 and RD-170 made on the same production line? If so, then Sea Launch's chain of problems may have really driven up the effective per-unit cost of RD-180 relative to the mid-2000s when the Zenit flight rate was much higher.
« Last Edit: 08/28/2013 08:33 PM by simonbp »

Offline baldusi

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #42 on: 08/28/2013 08:50 PM »
Both do use the same line. In fact, Zenit changed from RD-171 to RD-171M, which applied all the improvements of the RD-180 (like new injectors and such). It's also 300kg lighter. The Sea Launch troubles might have impacted. The expected launch rate of Atlas V may also have impacted. I have read around, that Energomash had inherited the Sea Launch contract signed in Ukranian rubles, and that was the main cause of loss. If I'm not mistaken, they are getting about the same for an RD-171M to as for an RD-180.
Two things happened that could have generated this problem. First, they never expected the USD to be so weak. And second, given the overall reduction from planned launch rate (both SL and AV), not only they would get worse factory utilization, but the fixed price contracts would extend further in time, where the inflation would progressively eat your margins. Imagine if Atlas had launched 10 times per year and Sea Launch another 6. Not only would have they had double factory utilization, but they would be over their 100 engine delivery and they would be selling at a renegotiated price. And they would have earned a lot more when the fixed price had a higher real value. I mean, that in the early 2000s they would be selling lots of engines that at 12M a pop would have been a great price.

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #43 on: 08/28/2013 09:08 PM »
NASA is not ULA.

I didn't say they would sell them to ULA.
We will be vic-toooooo-ri-ous!!!

Offline a_langwich

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #44 on: 08/29/2013 03:56 AM »
Both do use the same line. In fact, Zenit changed from RD-171 to RD-171M, which applied all the improvements of the RD-180 (like new injectors and such). It's also 300kg lighter. The Sea Launch troubles might have impacted. The expected launch rate of Atlas V may also have impacted. I have read around, that Energomash had inherited the Sea Launch contract signed in Ukranian rubles, and that was the main cause of loss. If I'm not mistaken, they are getting about the same for an RD-171M to as for an RD-180.
Two things happened that could have generated this problem. First, they never expected the USD to be so weak. And second, given the overall reduction from planned launch rate (both SL and AV), not only they would get worse factory utilization, but the fixed price contracts would extend further in time, where the inflation would progressively eat your margins. Imagine if Atlas had launched 10 times per year and Sea Launch another 6. Not only would have they had double factory utilization, but they would be over their 100 engine delivery and they would be selling at a renegotiated price. And they would have earned a lot more when the fixed price had a higher real value. I mean, that in the early 2000s they would be selling lots of engines that at 12M a pop would have been a great price.

Makes a lot of sense.  I imagine ULA management, especially since they cranked up prices on their total launch package to USAF, would be sympathetic to those arguments, within reason of course.  After all, their customers are not fixated on lowest cost as the primary criterion, and any alternative US-based production would likely not be cheaper. 

But having the Russian government hold export approval hostage is probably not going to be received as sympathetically, especially in the context of all the other political events happening around the world.  For one thing, any responsible manager has to take a close look and say, okay, what are my options if RD-180 shipments stop?

And on that score, I am entirely unconvinced by previous Rocketdyne handwaving about how of course they could build it.  Not so much that they couldn't do it at all, but building a complete domestic RD-180, running through the necessary qualification test cycles, and getting a qualified one with equivalent performance into an Atlas V in four years?  I'm as skeptical of that as I am of SpaceX schedules.  But, like SpaceX, I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

If I were DOD or Congress, there is no way I would accept that assurance without a full duration test fire of an engine produced domestically.  No production line, just an engineering test article, and possibly covered by a small government-provided budget (after all, according to Rocketdyne no development is needed) for "program assurance."  That money would be very well spent, even if no domestic RD-180 were ever produced. 

Demonstrating that option provides some negotiating leverage--not a lot, since domestic production might or might not be cost effective, but it nixes the possibility that ULA or DOD would be unable to come up with an alternative, it takes years off the potential lag, and it builds confidence in a schedule to get things going if needed. 

Furthermore, building and test firing a full, high-performance, staged combustion kerolox engine would be valuable experience.  Some employees would be learning a LOT.  That learning could also pay dividends, both for future engine proposals and also for additional perspective on hydrolox designs like the RS-68 and RS-25E.  You have to ask yourself, if ANY other country in the world had the license to produce an RD-180 domestically, would they not have done so?

Is there a test stand in the US to fire an RD-180?

Offline fregate

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #45 on: 08/29/2013 05:02 AM »
Rumor has it, let's wait for facts...
"Selene, the Moon. Selenginsk, an old town in Siberia: moon-rocket  town" Vladimir Nabokov

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #46 on: 08/29/2013 05:05 AM »
Rumor has it, let's wait for facts...

You must be new around here ;)
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline MP99

ISTM AJ 1E6 is least likely to be taken forward as engine for SLS's advanced booster. But, just imagine for a moment it does win a development contract there.

It's about 20% more thrust than RD-180 - could a de-rated version be slotted into "Atlas Va"?

Maybe also fitted in an upgraded version of Antares.

One new engine shared three ways around US launch providers??

Cheers, Martin

Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #48 on: 08/29/2013 01:33 PM »
ISTM AJ 1E6 is least likely to be taken forward as engine for SLS's advanced booster. But, just imagine for a moment it does win a development contract there.

It's about 20% more thrust than RD-180 - could a de-rated version be slotted into "Atlas Va"?

Maybe also fitted in an upgraded version of Antares.

One new engine shared three ways around US launch providers??

Cheers, Martin

Wasn't there a program to get additional thrust out of the RD-180 as well ? I can't imagine the AJ1E6 would be a bad thing in the Atlas.

Offline Prober

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #49 on: 08/29/2013 01:56 PM »
ISTM AJ 1E6 is least likely to be taken forward as engine for SLS's advanced booster. But, just imagine for a moment it does win a development contract there.

It's about 20% more thrust than RD-180 - could a de-rated version be slotted into "Atlas Va"?

Maybe also fitted in an upgraded version of Antares.

One new engine shared three ways around US launch providers??

Cheers, Martin

I like the way you think
 
If Aerojet and others can keep from adding a lot of bells and whistles to the AJ 1E6; then it can be manufactured "cheap". 
 
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Offline LouScheffer

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #50 on: 08/29/2013 03:27 PM »

Is there a test stand in the US to fire an RD-180?
The Wikipedia article on the RD-180 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RD-180 ) shows one being fired at Marshall, so yes.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #51 on: 08/29/2013 05:59 PM »
And on that score, I am entirely unconvinced by previous Rocketdyne handwaving about how of course they could build it.  Not so much that they couldn't do it at all, but building a complete domestic RD-180, running through the necessary qualification test cycles, and getting a qualified one with equivalent performance into an Atlas V in four years?  I'm as skeptical of that as I am of SpaceX schedules.  But, like SpaceX, I would be delighted to be proven wrong.
They already have all the IP and know how to manufacture the RD-180 domestically. They wouldn't have to do a full qualification testing. They might have to qualify some materials, probably, but the rest would be a full RD-180. Now, if they decide to try to add improvements, that's a whole different matter.
BTW, they could order the DIV M+(4,4) (36mon lead time) to cover, basically, the whole AV 4xx line, and thus they would only need to keep some 531 and all 541/551. But that's about 6 flights total upto now. And the DIV M+(5,6) and M+(5,8) are "easy", but have some extra lead time (48mon) and, I think, would require customized cores. The really hurt here would be to NASA's program, since they use the most 401. But I guess SpaceX would be pretty happy about it.
So overall, it wouldn't really hurt the US that much, it would cost a little bit more (given the over 100B EELV program), could result either in a more competitive internationally Delta IV and SpaceX or in a way more competitive SpaceX plus an RD-180 factory in the US. Which, might even mean the bankruptcy of Sea Launch and extremely serious problems to NPO Energomash. I can only think of a very angry Italian making this sort of decision (and I'm Italian, too).

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #52 on: 08/29/2013 06:01 PM »

Is there a test stand in the US to fire an RD-180?
The Wikipedia article on the RD-180 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RD-180 ) shows one being fired at Marshall, so yes.
That was roughly 15 years ago now, a precursor to Atlas III.  I think that these were the last high-thrust tests of this class at MSFC.  I'm not sure about the status of this test stand today.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 08/29/2013 06:02 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline daveklingler

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #53 on: 08/29/2013 07:10 PM »
Rumor has it, let's wait for facts...

You must be new around here ;)


And yet, on the basis of that rumor, it wouldn't surprise me to hear about  new block grants to PWR, Dynetics and AJ some time in the next 12 months.

Offline Lars_J

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #54 on: 08/29/2013 07:59 PM »
Is there a test stand in the US to fire an RD-180?

Sure... http://tinyurl.com/obzbrdw

[Ducks and runs]...  ;D

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #55 on: 08/30/2013 05:40 AM »
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.


Could be a good excuse for Aerojet to start manufacturing the AJ-26-500.
Doing so would solve both OSC's and ULA problems of engine supply as two of theme would be a close replacement for a single RD-180.
« Last Edit: 08/30/2013 05:40 AM by Patchouli »

Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #56 on: 08/30/2013 05:43 AM »
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.


Could be a good excuse for Aerojet to start manufacturing the AJ-26-500.
Doing so would solve both OSC's and ULA problems of engine supply as two of theme would be a close replacement for a single RD-180.

Have they built let alone tested this engine concept?

Offline baldusi

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #57 on: 08/30/2013 05:04 PM »
I speculate that they have gone to the AJ-1E6 concept directly. The thrust chambers and nozzles are the NK-33, which where made to be pushed to 135% in expendable mode. And those are pretty proven. I don't think that they would have that much of a problem developing this engine. Probably the critical item would be material production (for which they have the specs) and the development of the preburner. It's a big and high pressure injector for which AJ has little or no experience. Teledyne does has a lot of experience and technology for turbopumps. So it's probably a matter of financing than technical risk.

Offline newpylong

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #58 on: 08/30/2013 05:15 PM »
Is there a test stand in the US to fire an RD-180?

Sure... http://tinyurl.com/obzbrdw

[Ducks and runs]...  ;D

An RD-180 would rip that stand to shreds.

Offline Prober

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Re: Rumors that Russia may block the export of RD-180 to the US
« Reply #59 on: 08/30/2013 05:24 PM »
Is there a test stand in the US to fire an RD-180?

Sure... http://tinyurl.com/obzbrdw

[Ducks and runs]...  ;D

An RD-180 would rip that stand to shreds.

Can you say Grasshopper  ;D
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I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

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