Encyclopedia Astronautica

Credit: © Mark Wade
Glushko Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 7903 kN. Zenit stage 1. In production. Isp=337s. RD-171 used two-plane gimablling versus one-plane gimablling on RD-170 developed in parallel for Energia. First flight 1985.

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. Figures are per chamber. 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: Zenit stage 1.


Chambers: 4. Thrust (sl): 7,550.000 kN (1,697,300 lbf). Thrust (sl): 769,876 kgf. Engine: 9,500 kg (20,900 lb). Chamber Pressure: 245.00 bar. Area Ratio: 36.87. Thrust to Weight Ratio: 84.84. Oxidizer to Fuel Ratio: 2.63.

AKA: 11D521.
Status: In production.
Unfuelled mass: 9,500 kg (20,900 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: 1976-86.
Number: 60 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Zenit Zenit was to be a modular new generation medium Soviet launch vehicle, replacing the various ICBM-derived launch vehicles in use since the 1960's (Tsiklon and Soyuz). A version of the first stage was used as strap-ons for the cancelled Energia heavy booster. But it was built by Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine; when the Soviet Union broke up planned large-scale production for the Soviet military was abandoned (Angara development was begun as an indigenous alternative). Launch pads were completed only at Baikonur; those at Plesetsk were never finished and are planned to be completed as Angara pads. However the vehicle found new life as a commercial launch vehicle, launched from a sea platform by an American/Ukrainian consortium. More...
  • Angara The Angara was a new all-Russian heavy launch vehicle designed to replace the Zenit (which was built by a Ukrainian company) and Proton (which had launch pads only on Kazakh territory). The booster was sized for rail transport of modular manufactured components to cosmodromes at Plesetsk and Svobodniy. The design featured a single modular core that could be clustered for large payloads or used as a first stage with a variety of existing upper stages. All plans for the Angara were dependent on financing and subject to constant change. 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...

  • 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.

Associated Stages
  • Angara Stage 1 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 500,000/40,000 kg. Thrust 8,181.13 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 337 seconds. Unique configuration with oxidizer in core and fuel in two tanks strapped on in parallel - all of rail-transportable 3.9 m diameter. Product of Khrunichev. Masses estimated based on engine selected and vehicle performance. More...
  • Zenit-1 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 354,300/28,600 kg. Thrust 8,181.13 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 337 seconds. Modification of same stage used as strap-on for Energia launch vehicle. More...

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