So sad

US Production Of The RD-180 Engine Moves Closer To Reality

The US wants to build the best rocket engine in the world. Excellent!

How to do it? License the design from the Russians, of course.

The RD-180, already in use on American Atlas III and Atlas V launch vehicles, will be built by a group led by Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin once they get the documents translated. (I’m not making this up.)

The RD-180 is definitely a great design.

The RD-180 is the only LOX/Kerosene oxygen-rich staged combustion engine flying in the U.S. today. It incorporates leading-edge technologies such as a single pre-burner, single-shaft main turbopump unit, spherical no leak flanges and a milled channel wall nozzle for safety and robustness of the rocket engine. It generates nearly one million pounds of thrust.

For reference, the F-1 engines on the 1960s-era Saturn V were LOX/Kerosene burners that generated 1.5 million pounds of thrust. I’m just saying.

As a caption to a photo of the RD-180, SpaceDaily notes

If we can buy Russian engine technology why not buy Russian manned space technology and save the taxpayers a bundle. Oh that’s right NASA only likes to use equipment that costs 10 times more than it needs to.

That isn’t a very effective caption, but it’s a good question and answer session that summarizes so much of what’s gone wrong with the US space program.