Antares gets new engines – and they are not the ones we thought

by | Dec 19, 2014 | commercial launch services, Russia, Seradata News, Technology | 0 comments

While the reliability of Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket’s ancient (if refurbished) NK-33/AJ-26 engines were found wanting, Orbital Sciences Corp has now decided to change these engines in favour of another rocket engine.   According to Aviation Week, the company has selected the LOx (liquid oxygen)/kerosene burning RD-181 engine produced by the Russian manufacturer, NPO Energomash.

The company had originally been expected for either a single very large engine in the form of the dual chamber dual nozzle RD-180 or a pair of the smaller single chamber RD-193 engines which powers the Soyuz 1-V.

The actual choice was to go for a pair of the 432,000lb sea-level thrust RD-181 engines whose design uses a single chamber/single nozzle. This engine apparently “closely resembles the RD-191 on Russia’s new Angara launcher and the RD-151 that powers South Korea’s Naro-1 launch vehicle.”  The new rocket engine will still use the highly efficient oxygen-rich pre-burner/staged-combustion cycle that Russia specialises in and will have a specific impulse (the traditional measure of rocket efficiency) of 312 seconds.

It was the need to keep closely to the two engine configuration of the original NK-33 powered Antares, along with rocket engine availability and cost effectiveness, were the main factors cited by Orbital Sciences in the selection of the RD-181.  An initial purchase of 60 engines will be made covering up to 30 launches, delivered at rate of five sets of two per year.

Critics note that in choosing a Russian engine, Orbital Sciences and its part-Ukrainian-built Antares may succumb to politically motivated supply issues that currently threatens Atlas military launches. Russia has already threatened to halt its RD-180 engine supply to ULA for these launches.

 

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

SSLV failure cause: Violent second stage separation triggered chain of events which prevented SSLV final stage burn to stable orbit

The failure investigation set up by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) into the launch failure of the maiden flight Read more

South Korea confirms shift of two missions from Russian launchers; Kompsat 6 goes to Arianespace and CAS500-2 goes back to international market

The South Korean vice-minister for Science, Oh Tae-seog, announced on 1 February 2023 that they had selected an Arianespace Vega Read more

SpaceX launches another batch of Starlinks plus ION-SCV9 delivery spacecraft testing separation system

A Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 was launched from the Vandenberg Space Force base in California at 1615 GMT on 31 Read more

US sanctions SPACETY for supplying radar imagery to Russian Wagner Group in Ukraine

Just as Ukraine's military campaign has been supported by US commercial spacecraft operating firms — with SpaceX and Maxar providing Read more

Tianwen 1 mission’s Zhurong-1 Mars rover may have expired in its sleep

SpaceNews reports (quoting the South China Morning Post) that the Zhurong 1 Mars rover as part of the Tianwen 1 Read more

Tom Cruise may have saved cinema industry with Top Gun-Maverick but he has even higher movie plans with space station studio module now ordered

While action film actor Tom Cruise has his detractors, you cannot say he is not successful. Recently starring in the Read more

NASA goes Nuclear Thermal as it plans to launch engine on DARPA’s DRACO project test mission in 2027

Nuclear Thermal rocket propulsion has been mooted since the 1960s. The idea is to use nuclear power to heat rocket Read more

China deploys 14 satellites on Long March-2D rocket

The Chinese sent 14 new satellites into orbit on a Long March-2D/2 (CZ-2D/2) rocket at 0314 GMT on 15 January. Read more

Categories

Archives