US-Russia rocket cooperation 'shining example' of joint success

Cooperation between Russia and the United States on rocket engines demonstrates a "shining example" of how the two states can successfully accomplish joint tasks, RD Amross CEO Michael Baker told Sputnik. The US-Russian joint venture RD Amross hopes that the cooperation between the two countries on rocket engines will continue for many years ahead, Baker said.

"Our joint cooperative programs between Russia and the US over the last 20 years have been a shining example of how our two countries can work to together to accomplish great things," Baker said.

Baker pointed out that at the working level the United States and Russia work together very well to solve any issues that arise, both technical and programmatic.

"Our joint venture brings us together and many lifelong friendships have been made. These relationships foster a better understanding of each other and our cultures, and I believe, bring our countries closer together," Baker added.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA), an operator of carrier rockets, acquires the RD-180 engines through RD Amross, which includes Russian company Energomash - the manufacturer of these engines. The US space program relies on the RD-180 engines to power the first stage of the Atlas V rocket, the only US carrier rocket capable of sending heavy payloads into space.

In 2014, US Congress passed a law mandating that the United States phase out its reliance on the RD-180 engines.

In June 2016, US Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, who was the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, attempted to cut off any further purchase of the Russian engines, proposing US companies to compete to provide the United States with a reliable, domestic space launch platform.

The US Blue Origin company has been developing BE-4 engines, set to eventually replace Russia's RD-180, since 2011. The flight tests are expected to take place in 2019.

The relations between Moscow and Washington have recently been at what US President Donald Trump has called the lowest point. On April 6, the US Treasury Department added 38 Russian entrepreneurs, senior officials and companies to its sanctions list in response to Russia's alleged "malign activity" around the world.

On Friday, the heads of the factions in the Russian State Duma, parliament's lower house, together with speaker Vyacheslav Volodin introduced a draft law on the potential response to US sanctions and anti-Russian policies.

According to senior Russian lawmakers, if a bill is adopted, Russia will stop supplying the United States with titanium, necessary for the production of Boeing aircraft, as well as with RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines used by Washington to build its Atlas V and Antares rockets.

Source: Sputnik News

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