Liquid Rocket Engines

Russian RD-170 Liquid Rocket Engine

Rocketdyne, R. Jones, Nov. 1990

The RD-170 is the world's highest thrust and specific impulse O2/Kerosene engine. It is also the world's highest performance, multichamber (4 thrust chambers/one turbo pump) rocket engine. The total vacuum thrust is 1.78 mlbs with an Isp of 336 in a vacuum. Thrust is 1.63 mlbs at sea level with an Isp of 308.

It was used successfully in Energia launches on May 15th of 1987 and November 15 of 1988. On each launch four RD-170s were used. It has also been used successfully on 21 Zenit (SL-16) launches. It uses a staged combustion cycle.

The RD-170 propellants are Kerosene for fuel and LOX for oxidizer. Its liquid propellant performance uses afterburning. It features thrust control, mixture ratio control with Thrust Vector Control (TVC). Its four thrust chambers can be hinged in one tangent plane or in two mutally perpendicular planes. Its thrust range is 102% to 50%.

The engine weighs between 23,589 and 26,841 pounds depending on the configuration chosen. Its reliability is .999 for one time use and has completed 389 tests without failure. Its service life is 17 flights.

The RD-170 is made by the Gas Dynamics Laboratory-Experimental Design Bureau, previously known as GDL-OKB. The manufacturing facility is at Khimki in the greater Moscow region.

The RD-170 is actually a propulsion module which has one turbopump assembly driven by 2 preburners which feed four thrust chamber assemblies. The system features a staged combustion power cycle with a single shaft TPA centrally located in the booster pod, and includes low pressure pumps.


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