Orbital Sciences ends legal action against ULA and RD AMROSS over supply of RD-180 rocket engines

by | Mar 21, 2014 | commercial launch services, Russia | 0 comments

As it attempts to find a suitable replacement engine for its Antares launch vehicle, given its dwindling supply of its 1960s-vintage NK-33 engines which are refurbished to AJ-26 standard by Aerojet Rocketdyne, Orbital Sciences Corporation has withdrawn, for the time being, its anti-trust legal suit against ULA (United Launch Alliance) and RD AMROSS.  In the original legal action, Orbital Sciences had alleged that the companies had conspired to limit the use of the Russian built RD-180 engine to just ULA’s Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket.  The companies are now attempting to make an out of court resolution to the issue.

Comment by David Todd:  All this may be moot, given that USA is now desperately trying to find a way of NOT using Russian-made engines given the current poor relationship with Russia over its annexation of the Ukranian region of Crimea.  The US Air Force is now examining whether it would be economically viable to make the the RD-180 engines in USA (a licence to build the engine in USA exists).  Alternatively, if they want to move away from Russian technology entirely, the US rocket engine firm Aerojet-Rocketdyne may be encouraged to build its own highly-efficient oxygen rich pre-burner staged-combustion cycle engine, the AJ-1-E6, which is of similar thrust to the RD-180 being in the 1 million pound class.

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