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Russia shows off upgraded world’s most powerful rocket engine

1 min ago

A Russian rocket engine producer has offered a sneak peek of its latest creation, the RD-171MV, which is slated to be part of Russia’s next workhorse launch vehicle and, later, a super heavy-lift rocket.

The RD-170 family is the legacy of the Buran/Energia program, which remains the world’s most-powerful multi-combustion chambered rocket engine. Its producer, NPO Energomash, has adapted it to several launch vehicles over the years, from the two-chamber RD-180 variant for the US Atlas V rocket to the modified RD-171M for the Russian-Ukrainian Zenit-2 launches.

Last month the producer created the first engine meant for the future Soyuz-5 rocket, the RD-171-MV. On Tuesday, Energomash and Roscosmos presented a promo video of the new engine variant, confirming some of its characteristics.

The engine, which has improved overheating protection and a new fully domestically-made fuel and oxygen regulation system, weights 10.3 tons and has a thrust of over 800 kN, slightly more than the RD-171M variant. Its turbines and pumps produce an output of 180 MW, which is comparable to three nuclear-propelled icebreakers.

Soyuz-5, the Russian replacement of the Zenit and Proton medium-lift rockets as well as the future launch vehicle for manned low-earth orbit missions, will have a single RT-171MV powering its first stage. The rocket is expected to make its maiden flight in 2022. A variant of the Soyuz-5 is considered as the vehicle to revive the frozen Sea Launch program, which is currently owned by a private Russian company.