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Russia hands over last rocket engines to ULA

In a ceremony in Russia yesterday, Roscosmos’s Energomash division completed and handed over ownership to ULA six RD-180 engines, to be used in ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.

These are the last such engines required as part of the contract. They will also likely be the last Russian engines ULA will ever buy. The company is retiring its Atlas 5 rocket, which requires them, and replacing it with its Vulcan rocket, which will instead use Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine.

Furthermore, as of September 1st, 2021 such commercial space contracts with Russia will be difficult to obtain because of new sanctions imposed on Russia by the Biden administration.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Mark McSherry

    I hope you will not take this as a completely inappropriate take-over of your posted subject. But a review of a Russian movie called Spacewalker (2017) was posted today- the movie was released on blu-ray on January 2021 and is available at Amazon for $16.

    Here’s the opening paragraph from Glenn Erickson’s review–

    by Glenn Erickson APR 17, 2021

    Dmitriy Kiselev’s overlooked Russian thriller is an exciting and inspirational true account of the first walk in space by a Soviet cosmonaut — a mission that nearly became a tragedy. It’s almost as emotional an experience as Apollo 13 — the worthy cosmonauts demonstrate ‘the right stuff’ under much more trying conditions. The beautifully produced and splendidly acted show makes it seem a crime that foreign movies this good are routinely denied theatrical exhibition here. The Blu-ray comes with an excellent pair of featurettes, with the participation of the original spacewalker Alexey Leonov.

    Has anyone seen this movie? I ‘ve read Erickson’s reviews for many years and will purchase this on Glenn’s word.

  • Richard M

    This could force ULA to human rate Vulcan (in order to launch Starliners) more quickly than they had planned.

    Last I read, ULA had planned to keep Atlas V around just for Starliner launches, at least well into the 2020’s.

  • Mike Borgelt

    Mark McSherry, my wife and I watched Spacewalker a month or so ago. Excellent movie. It is on Youtube.

  • Jeff Wright

    Thanks for the heads up. I wish they had went with an American build RD-170 with four chambers instead of just the two.

  • Mark McSherry

    Thanks Mike! The blu-ray arrives Tuesday and, going by your comments, I’m now sure the $16 is well-spent.

  • Jay

    Thanks Mark for the movie. I watched it and loved it.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Haven’t seen the movie yet, but will do so soon. I have seen the trailer and I would say it looks even more like a Russian version of The Right Stuff than it does Apollo 13, though there is certainly some of that in there too.

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