Federal Court Lifts Ban on RD-180 Engines, Russian Cooperation Uncertain

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RD-180 test firing at the Marshall Space Flight Center Advanced Engine Test Facility. Photo: Wikipedia

[Via Satellite 05-13-2014] The United States Court of Federal Claims has dissolved a ban on Russian-built RD-180 engines manufactured by NPO Energomash. The ban was prompted by a preliminary injunction filed by SpaceX against the U.S. Air Force’s block buy of rocket cores from United Launch Alliance (ULA). The Atlas 5, built by ULA, is powered by the RD-180 engine. The court said in a statement that “to the best of [the relevant department’s] knowledge, purchases from and payments to NPO Energomash currently do not directly or indirectly contravene Executive Order 13,661.”

President Obama initiated executive order 13,661 following controversial Russian actions in Ukraine. The order imposed sanctions on key Russian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. U.S. agencies involved in the decision agreed to notify the court of any indication of payments to NPO Energomash that would contravene the executive order.

In a briefing, Rogozin warned that there would be a response to U.S. sanctions.

“Sanctions are like releasing a bull in a china shop. That said, we’ve always built Russian policy on the following logic – a statement in response to a statement and a reaction following an action,” said Rogozin.

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