The RD-180 rocket engine is powering the first stage of Lockheed Martin's Atlas III and Atlas V rockets.

The RD-180 is a two thrust chamber derivative of the RD-170 engine which powers the Zenit first stage. The RD-180 was developed in Russia and is marketed jointly by NPO Energomash and Pratt & Whitney. Under the guidelines of the US Air Force EELV contract, Pratt & Whitney will produce RD-180's in West Palm Beach, Florida for the government Atlas V launches. 

It provides environmentally clean operation while featuring an integrated propulsion package with hydraulics for control valve actuation and thrust vector gimbaling; pneumatics for valve actuation and system purging and a thrust frame to distribute loads.

Picture of RD-180 used in Atlas V Rocket

The RD-180 was developed in a relatively short period of time and was scaled from the RD-170, which makes up 80% of the RD-180 parts. In addition to the Atlas III and Atlas V launch vehicles, the RD-180 has been proposed to power the Russian Angara launch vehicle.

Packing nearly one million pounds of thrust in a total propulsion system, the RD-180 delivers a 10 percent performance increase over current operational U.S. booster engines in 2003. This reusable kerosene (hydrocarbon) fueled engine has been flight proven on the Lockheed Martin Atlas III and V.


Characteristics (100% power)

Nominal thrust:   (sea level) 860,200 lb, (vacuum)    933,400 lb

Specific impulse (sea level): 311.3 sec

Vacuum specific impulse: 337.8 sec

Chamber pressure: 3,722 psia

Nozzle area ratio: 36.4:1

Mixture ratio: 2.72

Diameter: 124 in.

Length: 140 in.

Throttle range: 47-100%

Dry weight: 12,081 lb (5,480kg)


Russia in Space:

- Rocket Propulsion Elements, 7th Edition by George P. Sutton (Author), Oscar Biblarz (Author)

- Energiya-Buran: The Soviet Space Shuttle by Bart Hendrickx

- Modern Engineering for Design of Liquid-Propellant Rocket Engines (Progress in Astronautics & Aeronautics, Vol 147

- Rocket Exhaust Plume Phenomenology by Frederick S. Simmons

- Amateur Rocket Motor Construction: A Complete Guide To The Construction Of Homemade Solid Fuel Rocket Motors


RD-0146 Links

Goto Rocket Engines Guide

Goto Propulsion Guide Home Page

Goto Space Projects and Info Home Page

Copyright 2000-2014 Vic Stathopoulos. All rights reserved.
Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014