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Orbital Sciences likely to choose Russian engine for new Antares rocket

October 31, 2014, 12:05 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
The decision to choose the engine for a next generation of Antares rocket family was made several weeks ago, Orbital Sciences Vice-President for Public Relations Barron Beneski says
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© AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls

Infographics Antares rocket explodes Antares rocket explodes
Overnight to October 29, a US Antares carrier rocket exploded seconds after liftoff from the spaceport in Virginia. The rocket was to carry the cargo spacecraft to the orbit and deliver to the ISS more than 2 tons of payload. Infographics by TASS

WASHINGTON, October 31. /TASS/. A Russian engine RD-193 produced at research-and-production association Energomash based in Moscow regional city of Khimki will be probably mounted on modified models of US rocket carrier Antares.

The decision to choose the engine for a next generation of Antares rocket family was made several weeks ago, Orbital Sciences Vice-President for Public Relations Barron Beneski told TASS by phone. In the future this booster will really use a new rocket engine, he noted.

The decision was taken after the disaster which occurred at the NASA Wallops Island launch facility in the Atlantic off Virginia’s coast on October 28, he said. The launch vehicle which should have orbited the Cygnus space freighter with cargo for the International Space Station (ISS) exploded six seconds after the liftoff. Meanwhile, Orbital Sciences said that carrier rocket Antares was destroyed by a command from the Earth after this became obvious that malfunctions broke out in the freighter’s systems.

So, Orbital Sciences does not confirm in concrete, but also does not deny information that the company had chosen Russian engine RD-193 to install on modified models of its rocket Antares. Beneski explained this step by interests of the company, noting that Orbital Sciences was involved in several commercial deals and the news report about a new engine might hamper to continue talks with partners. Details of the decision choosing the engine are not announced yet, he noted.

The choice of the new engine is not linked with the rocket crash and is explained by Orbital Sciences long-term plans.

Now the first stage of this rocket is equipped with Russian engines NK-33 which were developed by leading Russian rocket engine producer Kuznetsov based in the Volga river city of Samara back in the 1970s and were recently adapted to Antares by US company Aerojet Rocketdyne. Orbital Sciences have always noted that they were reliable.

RD-193 is a new liquid-fuel rocket engine developed by Glushko research-and-production association Energomash in 2013. Its main units and mechanisms are believed to be taken from engine RD-191 designed for Angara rockets. However, experts noted that RD-193 design was simplified making the engine smaller, lighter and cheaper than its prototype.

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