RD-180’s? : Rogozin Tweets NYET!


Following last week’s finding by a Federal Judge that the absence of any proof that sanctioned Russian Defense and Space minister Dimitry Rogozin was benefiting from the sale of RD-180’s was good enough to lift a temporary injunction against further purchases, it might have looked as if the issue was reverting back to the original complaint filed by SpaceX against the EELV block buy.

Not so much:

On Tuesday, the Twitter happy Rogozin took to the medium  once again, upping the stakes in the RD-180 engine debate, while also suggesting that Russia will back out of the International Space Station program after 2020.

First the engine:


It concludes:  “only under the guarantee that they won’t be used in the interests of the Pentagon”

Rogozin, it seems, was not satisfied with the judge’s decision that the American taxpayers could now go back to supporting his nation’s military industrial base.  While Russia could do little to prevent ULA and the Air Force from using new shipment RD-180 engines as they see fit, the tweet clearly indicates Russia has decided to at least experiment with the shiny red lever the EELV program has so willingly handed them.

ULA of course, blames SpaceX.  From Space News quoting a ULA spokesperson, “However, if recent news reports are accurate, it affirms that SpaceX’s irresponsible actions have created unnecessary distractions, threatened U.S. military satellite operations, and undermined our future relationship with the International Space Station.”

In fact, threats regarding the RD-180 began some time ago. In 2011, the Russian Comptroller general threatened to fine Energomash for selling the engines too cheaply, and last August, Russia overtly suggested it might stop exports of the engine.

Rogozin wasn’t done however, and soon followed up with the following:

If he is serious, the second tweet could be far more damaging in the long run, setting the stage for a major change in U.S. space policy as the cost and complexity of maintaining ISS post 2020 begins to escalate with the absence of Russian participation.  Somewhat ironically, even though Rogozin’s tweeted engine policy would leave the door open for NASA Commercial Crew launches on the Atlas V, it is difficult to imagine either the Boeing CST-100 or Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser being selected in a one vendor outcome due to their reliance on that booster. The optics would be awful, and the protest almost guaranteed.

The new gets worse. Any reduction in the Station’s operating life from 2024 to 2020 would also remove much of the incentive for a two vendor Commercial Crew solution in the first place, as potential vendors, particularly Boeing and Sierra Nevada, would be looking at a greatly reduced time frame and total number of flights within which to re-coup their investments.

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2 Comments on "RD-180’s? : Rogozin Tweets NYET!"

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  1. There’s not enough crewed flights from the US side to the ISS to support more than one commercial flight company even if its extended beyond 2020.

    Private commercial crew companies should be flying to private commercial space stations. That’s where the demand is.

    NASA could use the SLS to deploy the Olympus BA-2100 before the end of the decade in order to further test the reliability of its heavy lift rocket while also providing Commercial Crew companies with a place to take their space tourist.

    There are 50,000 people on this planet worth $100 million or more. That’s plenty of potential customers for a $27 million to $37 million dollar flight to a private space station. And if we had a space lotto system, billions of people around the world could get a chance to risk a dollar or two to win a chance to travel into space aboard a private commercial space craft to a private commercial space station.


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