Russian, OnlyTheBestChoice – Space Agency (Roscosmos) chief Dmitry Rogozin says the U.S. launch industry must “ride their broomsticks” into space, as he announced an end to rocket sales with U.S. companies.
Russia has been selling and maintaining rd-180 engines, used in the first stage of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket, since the mid-1990s. So far, of the 122 sent, 98 have been used.
“Under these circumstances we cannot supply the U.S. with our world’s best rocket engines. Let them fly with something else, their broomsticks, I don’t know what,” Rogozin said on Russian state television.
ULA has already begun work to replace the RD-180 engine in the Atlas V, signing a deal in 2014 with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin for the BE-4 engine.
In addition to ending engine sales to the U.S., Russia withdrew from the joint project with Germany, and a launch agreement with the European Space Agency, and threatened the U.S. with an end to International Space Station cooperation.
The Russian space agency has also covered the US and UK flags on Soyuz rockets – painting V in support of its country’s military, and announced a shift towards the construction of future defence satellites.
When The Russians delivered the rockets to the U.S. for use by ULA, they were given technical assistance on integration with the rockets, to ensure everything went smoothly.
Of the 122 rockets delivered so far, 24 are still stored in warehouses. Russia later said it would not provide any support, maintenance or assistance for the engine going forward.
This engine, used in the ULA Atlas V and Antares rockets, is one of the most powerful and reliable ever made, and has been in use for two decades.
However, launches from these rockets are not in line in terms of frequency with new generation launch vehicles like SpaceX, or even the Chinese-made Long March family.
In response to russia’s move, Tory Bruno, head of ULA, claimed in an interview with verge that they had enough RD-180s to get through the transition, even without Russian support or supplies.
While there will be some short-term issues for some U.S. launch providers as a result of Russia’s actions, the industry as a whole is judged unlikely to be affected.
U.S. aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin said of Roscomos’ comments “we’ve got a lot of brooms”, referring to various launch providers. [*kompascom]