The American company Aerojet Rocketdyne (in the process of being acquired by the world’s largest military-industrial corporation Lockheed Martin) has completed the assembly of the first prototype of the AR1 rocket engine, SpaceNews reported.
The publication notes that in the near future the company plans to test a new power unit.
SpaceNews recalls that the AR1, which runs on kerosene and oxygen, was created by Aerojet Rocketdyne by order of the US Air Force (Air Force) to replace the Russian RD-180 engine, which receives the first stage of the Atlas V heavy rocket, and its development, which has been underway since 2016 year, demanded 350 million dollars.
In October 2020, the executive director of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Tori Bruno announced that the problems with the turbo pumps of the BE-4 rocket engine of the American company Blue Origin had been resolved.
In January 2018, the general director of Energomash, Igor Arbuzov, said that more than half of the company’s revenue comes from deliveries of RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines to the United States.
Currently, the Vulcan launch vehicle, which is supposed to replace Atlas V, will receive not AR1, but BE-4, powered by methane and oxygen. The AR1 and BE-4 engines participated in the US Air Force’s tender for the creation of a replacement for the RD-180, but the first power unit lost to the second in the competition.