Wednesday, 24 January 2018

China-Russia rocket engine talks raise alarm bells in US


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Chinese space launch company Great Wall Industry is discussing a deal with Russia's top rocket maker to procure key engine technology, a sign of the growing aerospace ties between the two countries that is causing concern in the US, the Financial Times reports.

NPO Energomash, Russia's leading rocket engine manufacturer, told the FT that talks were indeed taking place with Great Wall on Wednesday.

The US considers Energomash's engine, the RD-180, to be so advanced that it uses the system for its own satellite launches, despite the fact that Washington's 2014 sanctions on Russia would normally preclude such a deal.

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RD-180 Credit: NPO Energomash

Glushko LOx/Kerosene rocket engine. Atlas III, Atlas V stage 1. In production. First flight 2000. Two-thrust-chamber derivative of the four-chamber RD-170 used on Zenit.

StatusIn production. Date: 1993-99, 1992-. Number: 14 . Thrust: 4,152.00 kN (933,406 lbf). Unfuelled mass5,480 kg (12,080 lb). Specific impulse: 339 s. Specific impulse sea level: 313 s. Burn time270 s. Height: 3.56 m (11.67 ft). Diameter: 3.15 m (10.33 ft).

The RD-180 was a two-thrust-chamber derivative of the four-chamber RD-170. It packaged the high performance, operability, and reusability features of the RD-170 in a size to meet the propulsion requirements for the Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. The RD-180 was a total propulsion unit with hydraulics for control valve actuation and thrust vector gimbaling, pneumatics for valve actuation and system purging, and a thrust frame to distribute loads, all self-contained as part of the engine. The engine, employing a LOX lead start, staged combustion cycle, and LOX rich turbine drive, delivered a 10 percent performance increase over then-operational US booster engines and provided clean, reusable operation. Only the main turbo-pump assembly and boost pumps required development and they were scalable from the RD-120 and RD-170 engines. All other components were taken directly from the RD-170. The RD-180 was developed in 42 months at a small fraction of the cost of a typical US new engine development. The engine powered the interim Atlas III and standard Atlas V launch vehicles.

General Description:
· Staged combustion cycle engine
· LOX/Kerosene propellants
· Two thrust chambers (gimbal +8 degrees)
· One oxygen rich pre-burner
· High pressure turbopump assembly
· Two-stage fuel pump
· Single-stage oxygen pump
· Single turbine
· Hypergolic ignition
· Self-contained hydraulic system (valves, TVC) powered with kerosene from fuel pump
· Health monitoring and life prediction system
· Automated flight preparation (after installation on the vehicle, all operations are automated through launch)
· Minimized interfaces with launch pad and vehicle (pneumatic and hydraulic systems self-contained, electrical panels consolidated, thrust frame to simplify mechanical interface)
· Environmentally clean operations with staged combustion oxidizer rich pre-burner, and oxidizer start and shutdown modes that eliminate coking and unburned kerosene pollution potential
· 50 - 100% continuous throttling provided potential for real time trajectory matching and engine checkout on the pad before launch commit
· 80% RD-170 parts
· Chamber Pressure: 256.6 bar.
· Area Ratio: 36.4.
· Thrust to Weight Ratio: 77.26.
· Oxidizer to Fuel Ratio: 2.72.

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