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Russian Rocket Engine Deliveries to the U.S. Evade Sanctions

Published: August 15, 2014 (Issue # 1824)



  • A modified NK-33 engine rocket engine being prepared for installation.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Despite fears of supply disruptions, the flow of Soviet-built rocket engines to U.S. commercial space launch firm Orbital Sciences, will not be hit by flaring tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, a representative of the Russian company that owns the engines said Thursday.

The standoff between Russia and the U.S. over the territorial integrity of Ukraine has highlighted just how deeply indebted the U.S. space industry is to certain legacy hardware from the Soviet space program — namely in the form of rocket engines — as Moscow has threatened to forbid any future sales of its engines to the U.S. for military satellite launches.

Orbital Sciences, one of the new commercial rocket builders that have emerged in the last several years, uses Soviet-era NK-33 engines modified in Russia to power to first stage of its Antares rocket.

"There is no rift in the relationship," a spokesman for Kuznetsov, the company that owns and reworks the engines was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying at an arms expo outside Moscow on Thursday.

"Cooperation on the modification of the NK-33 is mutually beneficial," he explained, adding that despite the high rhetoric, sanctions have yet to impact the space industry beyond hardware used for explicitly military purposes.

Kuznetsov currently is contracted to modify six or seven of the engines for Orbital's upcoming resupply missions to the International Space Station.

Considered to be some of the best engines in the world, the NK-33 is no longer in production. Originally built en masse to power the behemoth N-1 Moon rocket in the 1960s, the program was cancelled and the engines stored in a warehouse until the fall of the Soviet Union. They are now modified and sold exclusively to Orbital Sciences, although some Russian space companies have proposed domestic uses for the remaining stockpile of the engines.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 30


Dental-Expo St. Petersburg 2014 concludes today at Lenexpo. Welcoming specialists from throughout the federation, the forum is an opportunity for dentists to share tricks of the trade and peruse the most recent innovations in technology and equipment, with over 100 companies hocking their wares at the event.



Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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