At NasaSpaceFlight.com, Chris Gerbhart writes:

The RD-180 has provided exceptional performance to the Atlas V and was chosen to be the engine of the first stage in no small part because of its safety record and reliable performance track record.

Who flew the RD-180 before it was used on Atlas III? They flew 6 Atlas III flights, and then transitioned to the Atlas V.

Ya, the bigger brother RD-170 was flown on Energia on the side boosters and became the standalone Zenit booster. But who else flew the RD-180, to give it a track record before the Atlas V?

If as Wikipedia suggests that the Atlas III was the first use of the RD-170, then what was the Russian intent in developing it from the RD-170 core?


According to Wikipedia, RD-180 has only been used on the Atlas line, so I would assume they're talking about the track record of the whole RD-170 family -- the Energia and Zenit applications in particular.

  • $\begingroup$ I suspect the author did not mean what he wrote. :) Zenit has not had such a great history, and two launches of Energia does not a track record make. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Nov 11 '14 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ Agree that it's a bit of a reach, but looking at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Zenit_launches, something like 41 of 43 Zenit launches prior to 2002, including test flights, did not have first-stage engine problems. That second stage, tho... $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Nov 11 '14 at 20:19

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