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"RD-175" redirects here. For the Minolta RD-175, see Minolta RD-175.
RD-170 rocket engine.jpg
RD-170 rocket engine model on exhibition in Saint Petersburg's Museum of Space and Missile Technology.
Country of origin Soviet Union/Russian Federation
First flight 1985-04-13
Manufacturer NPO Energomash
Application Main Engine
Associated L/V Energia
Successor RD-171M
Status Retired
Liquid-fuel engine
Propellant LOX / RG-1
Mixture ratio 2.63
Cycle Oxidizer Rich Staged Combustion
Chamber 4
Nozzle ratio 36.87
Thrust (vac.) 7,904 kN (1,777,000 lbf)
Thrust (SL) 7,257 kN (1,631,000 lbf)
Throttle range 100% to 40%
Thrust-to-weight ratio 75
Chamber pressure 24.52 MPa (3,556 psi)
Isp (vac.) 337 s (3.30 km/s)
Isp (SL) 309 s (3.03 km/s)
Burn time 150 seconds
Length 4.0 m (160 in)
Diameter 3.8 m (150 in)
Dry weight 10,750 kg (23,700 lb)
Used in
References [1][2][3][4]

The RD-170 (РД-170, Ракетный Двигатель-170, Rocket Engine-170) is the world's most powerful liquid-fuel rocket engine, designed and produced in the Soviet Union by NPO Energomash for use with the Energia launch vehicle. The engine burns the Russian equivalent of RP-1 fuel and LOX oxidizer in four combustion chambers, all supplied by one single-shaft, single-turbine turbo pump rated at 170 MW in a staged combustion cycle.[3][5]

Shared turbopump[edit]

Several Soviet and Russian rocket engines use the approach of clustering small combustion chambers around a single turbine and pump. During the early 1950s, many Soviet engine designers, including Valentin P. Glushko, faced problems of combustion instability while designing bigger thrust chambers. At that time they solved the problem by using a cluster of smaller thrust chambers.



The RD-170 engine featured four combustion chambers and was developed for use on the Energia launch vehicle – both the engine and the launch vehicle were in production only for a short time.


RD-171 model

Building on the technology from the Energia launch vehicle the Zenit (rocket family) was developed, which uses a RD-170 variant, the RD-171. While the RD-170 had nozzles which swiveled on both axes, the RD-171 swivels on just one axis.[6] RD-171 was intended to be used on Zenith rocket, and one-axis swiveling allowed to avoid additional aerodynamic forces. Models called the RD-172 and RD-173 were proposed upgrades that would provide additional thrust, but they were never built.

Dual-chamber derivative[edit]

Main article: RD-180

The RD-180 uses only two combustion chambers instead of the four of the RD-170. The RD-180 used on the Atlas V, replaced the three engines used on early Atlas rockets with a single engine and achieved significant payload and performance gains. This engine had also been chosen to be the main propulsion system for the first stage of the now cancelled Russian Rus-M rocket.[7]

Single-chamber derivative[edit]

Main article: RD-191

The RD-191 is a single-chamber version used in the Russian Angara rocket.[8] Variants of RD-191 include RD-151 in South Korean Naro-1 rocket,[9] RD-181 in American Orbital ATK Antares rocket, and the proposed RD-193 for the Soyuz-2-1v project.[10]

Proposed Variants[edit]

On 28 July 2011 NPO Energomash summarised the results of the work on Rus-M rocket engine and considered the possibility of construction several new variants of RD-170 family engines.[11] According to the information, new and proposed variants will be marked as:

  • RD-180M for manned Atlas V rocket (Not required, current RD-180 meets manned Atlas V requirements.)[dubious ]
  • RD-180V for Rus-M rocket.
  • RD-175 with 9800 kN thrust for proposed Energia-K rocket.[12]


  • 4 combustion chambers, 4 nozzles
  • 1 set of turbines and pumps - Turbine produces approximately 257,000 hp (192 MW); equivalent to the power output of 3 nuclear-powered icebreakers
  • Ignition: Hypergolic start-up fuel capsule (Triethylaluminium)[13]
  • Vacuum thrust of 7,887 kN (1,773,000 lbf)
  • Vacuum Isp of 338 s (3.31 km/s)
  • Sea Level Isp of 309 s (3.03 km/s)
  • Weight: 9,750 kg (21,500 lb)
  • Thrust to weight ratio: 82

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "RD-171M". NPO Energomash. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  2. ^ Ponomarenko, Alexander. "ЖРД РД-170 (11Д521) и РД-171 (11Д520)" [RD-170 (11D521) and RD-171 (11D520)] (in Russian). Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  3. ^ a b Wade, Mark. "RD-170". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  4. ^ Krebs, Gunter Dick (2015-09-15). "Zenit family". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  5. ^ "South Korea to launch first space rocket on Aug. 19". Yonhap News Agency. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  6. ^ http://lpre.de/energomash/RD-170/#modif
  7. ^ Coppinger, Rob (2009-08-11). "The Bear's stars shine brighter". Flight International. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  8. ^ "Successful Tests of Angara Stage 1 Engine". Khrunichev. 2007-12-12. 
  9. ^ "First launch of KSLV-1 is conducted". 2009-08-25. 
  10. ^ Zak, Anatoly. "RD-193". russianspaceweb.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  11. ^ "Проведено заседание НТС" (in Russian). August 1, 2011. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Russia's Energomash: new rocket engines in development". VoiceofRussia.com. The Voice of Russia. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  13. ^ http://lpre.de/energomash/RD-170/#flow_schematic_descr

External links[edit]