Encyclopedia Astronautica

Credit: © Mark Wade
Glushko Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 7903 kN. Energia strap-on. Developed 1973-1985. Isp=337s. First flight 1987. Used one-plane gimablling versus the two-plane gimablling required on the RD-171 of the Zenit launch vehicle. Designed for 10 reuses.

The RD-170 and RD-171 engines consisted of 4 chambers, 1 turbo-pump and 2 gas generators were developed simultaneously, the difference being one-plane gimballing in the RD-170 used in the Energia launch vehicle strap-ons versus two-plane gimablling in the RD-171 used on the first stage of the Zenit launch vehicle. The RD-171 can be gimballed using bellows to 6 degrees normally but it has reached 8-10 degrees in tests. The chamber conditions are 300 atmosphere pressure and at a 400 degrees C oxygen-rich gas mixture - very dangerous conditions. The RD-170 was very hard to prove and many designers thought it couldn't be done. The first stage strap-ons were recovered under parachutes and returned to Baikonur for study. The engine was designed for 10 reuses but tests showed they could stand up to 20 burns.

The 170 MW turbo-pump is equivalent to three nuclear ice breakers. Developed 1973-1985. Engine Cycle: staged combustion. Oxidizer: LOX at 432 kg/s. Fuel: Kerosene at 166.2 kg/s. The engine can be throttled back to 56% of full thrust. Chamber Mass: 480 kg. Burn Time: 140-150 sec. Diameter is per chamber.

Application: Energia strap-on.


Chambers: 4. Thrust (sl): 7,550.000 kN (1,697,300 lbf). Thrust (sl): 769,876 kgf. Engine: 9,750 kg (21,490 lb). Chamber Pressure: 245.00 bar. Area Ratio: 36.87. Thrust to Weight Ratio: 82.66. Oxidizer to Fuel Ratio: 2.6.

AKA: 11D520.
Status: Development ended 1976.
Unfuelled mass: 9,750 kg (21,490 lb).
Height: 3.78 m (12.40 ft).
Diameter: 4.02 m (13.17 ft).
Thrust: 7,903.00 kN (1,776,665 lbf).
Specific impulse: 337 s.
Specific impulse sea level: 309 s.
Burn time: 150 s.
First Launch: 1981-93.
Number: 12 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Vulkan Super heavy-lift version of Energia with six strap-on boosters, and in-line upper stages and payloads. The concept was put on the back burner when Energia / Buran development begun. More...
  • Energia The Energia-Buran Reusable Space System (MKS) began development in 1976 as a Soviet booster that would exceed the capabilities of the US shuttle system. Following extended development, Energia made two successful flights in 1987-1988. But the Soviet Union was crumbling, and the ambitious plans to build an orbiting defense shield, to renew the ozone layer, dispose of nuclear waste, illuminate polar cities, colonize the moon and Mars, were not to be. Funding dried up and the Energia-Buran program completely disappeared from the government's budget after 1993. More...
  • Energia M Launch vehicle originally designed in the 1980's to fullfill the third generation 20-30 tonnes to orbit launcher requirement. It was an adaptation of the Energia launch vehicle, using two strap-on booster units instead of four, and a reduced-diameter core using a single RD-0120 engine instead of four. In the 1990's a structural test article was built and it was proposed that several Energia-M's be launched for commercial customers using surplus Energia components. No buyers came forward for the untested design. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Glushko Russian manufacturer of rocket engines and rockets. Glushko Design Bureau, Russia. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Lox/Kerosene Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. In January 1953 Rocketdyne commenced the REAP program to develop a number of improvements to the engines being developed for the Navaho and Atlas missiles. Among these was development of a special grade of kerosene suitable for rocket engines. Prior to that any number of rocket propellants derived from petroleum had been used. Goddard had begun with gasoline, and there were experimental engines powered by kerosene, diesel oil, paint thinner, or jet fuel kerosene JP-4 or JP-5. The wide variance in physical properties among fuels of the same class led to the identification of narrow-range petroleum fractions, embodied in 1954 in the standard US kerosene rocket fuel RP-1, covered by Military Specification MIL-R-25576. In Russia, similar specifications were developed for kerosene under the specifications T-1 and RG-1. The Russians also developed a compound of unknown formulation in the 1980's known as 'Sintin', or synthetic kerosene. More...

  • Kudryavtseva, V M, ed., Zhidkostnikh Raketnikh Dvigatley, Visshaya Shkola, Moscow, 1993.
  • Salmon, Andrew, The Story Of Russian Rocket Engines - Energomash Museum, Commentary by the guide at the Energomash rocket engine museum in Khimki, April 1998 at YSC98..
  • Haeseler, Dietrich, Information from NPO Energomash museum exhibit, Nov. 1992 via Dietrich Haeseler.
  • Russian Arms Catalogue, Vol 5 and 6, Military Parade, Moscow via Dietrich Haeseler.
  • Sutton, G P, Rocket Propulsion Elements, John Wiley and Sons, 1991 via Dietrich Haeseler.

Associated Stages
  • Energia Strapon Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 355,000/35,000 kg. Thrust 7,906.10 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 337 seconds. Essentially identical to Zenit stage 1. More...
  • Vulkan 0 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 355,000/35,000 kg. Thrust 7,891.01 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 336 seconds. Original design of Energia strap-ons, for use with Vulkan booster for manned lunar expedition. Ultimately derived from R-56 of 1961. More...

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