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I'm trying to do some research on this but very much struggling to work it all out. I'm looking for a cutaway diagram of said rocket engine (ideally one used on a first-stage), but I can't for the life of me work out what rocket uses what engine. Can anyone help?

In terms of "widely used", I'm looking for either (or perhaps both) the engine used on the most number of launches per year, or the engine used on the most varied number of rockets (e.g. is there an engine used on many different rockets?).

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    $\begingroup$ This website contains many diagrams of various rocket engines. It might be a good place to start. $\endgroup$ – Stu Jan 21 '14 at 15:18
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The most numerous launcher is the Soyuz-U, with more than 700 launched. Its 4 boosters use the RD-107 engine (manufactured by Energomash), so you'd have ca. 2800 engines of a single type.
PDF with some drawings of RD-107

The RD-107 is maybe not the best engine to find details on, being a soviet-era design. Other rocket engines may have been built in smaller quantities, but more information is available on them. A Google Image search for 'rocket engine cutaway' gave me a pile of results, the first two being nice diagrams of the F-1 engine used in the Saturn V.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Hobbes, guess that would be the RD-107A then. My only issue is I can't find a cutaway of that anywhere... Any tips? $\endgroup$ – Jonny Jan 21 '14 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ And confusingly, the RD-107 has one turbopump, but four chambers, right? So it looks like each side booster has four bells, but really only counts as one engine. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Jan 21 '14 at 22:48
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The NK-33 has been used successfully on two different rockets' first stages (Antares and Soyuz-1), and was planned to be used on several more, including the Soviet N-1F, and I think for Rocketplane Kistler as well.

The RD-170 family of engines have been used on a number of different launch vehicles as a first stage. It was used for the boosters of the Energiya rocket, it's used as the first stage of the Zenit rocket (which is very similar to an Energiya booster).

A half size version called the RD-180 is used on the American Atlas V and is being considered for use on Antares. A much smaller version called RD-150 was used on South Korea's Korea Space Launch Vehicle, and a quater sized version called the RD-190 is being developed for use on Russia's Angara series of rockets.

All those engines - RD-150/170/180/190 are of the same basic design, but will have different flowrates and a different number of nozzles. Everything was essentially scaled down from RD-170 to some degree.

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If you have some patience, I will bet on Merlin engines, flown on SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launchers. They use 10 per launch. 9 on the first stage, one on the upper stage.

In only the first 8 launches (as I write this in early 2014) that is 80 engines. With 50 flights on their manifest to clear, they will hit several hundred engines flown in the next year or two.

However, as of the current time, the Soyuz booster with the RD-107 is the clear winner with 700+ launches.

SSME with 135 launches X 3 engines per launch is 405 full duration firings (Maybe -3 for Challengers last flight). Then of course the SRB's with 270 full duration firings on those same launches. Now, are the SSME's still in use? Well not on the Space Shuttle, but in theory on the SLS now known as RS-25D or RS-25E engines.

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  • $\begingroup$ SSME was my first thought as well, but they were reused, so only a couple dozen of them were built. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Jan 22 '14 at 8:09

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