Two additional Russian rocket engines arrive in the U.S.

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Despite tensions over the Ukraine, a Russian cargo plane on Wednesday delivered two more Russian rocket engines to Alabama for their refurbishment and use in ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.

This delivery gives ULA some additional breathing room. It the additional deliveries scheduled for later this year and early in 2015 happen, they will have even more breathing room for more Atlas 5 launches. Even so, their dependence on Russian engines is something that limits the company’s competitiveness in the emerging aggressive launch market.



  • Dick Eagleson

    As one who predicted these two engines would not arrive, I must confess to being wrong – this time. ULA’s ongoing problem is that is has to continue being lucky. The Russians still hold the whip hand here and can smack ULA any time they like. There are at least seven more deliveries scheduled through the end of 2017. Anyone else care to estimate the odds on all these deliveries being made?

  • Actually, based on my dealings with the Russians as well as my readings of their history, I would expect those deliveries to be made. They almost always fulfill the terms of any contract they sign, but do it to the letter. If you miss some detail that is essential, they will make you pay through the nose. Otherwise, the Russians have been remarkably reliable these past few decades.

    What I expect is that they will be very unwilling to sign any further contracts. When this one runs out, ULA will be out of luck.

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