The president of Russian space industry firm Energia, Vladimir Solntsev, announced on Jan. 15 that the company has received all the necessary government authorization to finalize its contract with the American firm Orbital Sciences for the supply of RD-181 missile engines. The companies have already signed a contract worth $1 billion.
The engines will be used on the first step of the Antares missiles. "We had worked exactly three years to sign this contract," said Solntsev. The engines are produced at the Energomash factory.
According to the terms of the contract, American companies will not be able to use the RD-181s for launching military apparatuses into space.
Orbital Sciences decided to find a new engine supplier after an Antares missile carrying a load of cargo to the International Space Station exploded on takeoff. Experts believe that the cause of the accident could have been the missile’s AJ-26 engine.
Solntsev says that 60 engines will be provided until the terms of the contract. The $1-billion figure includes flight training, the assembly of the engines onto the missiles and test launches. Orbital Sciences will receive the first two engines in June.
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