Creator of the world’s best liquid rocket engine RD-180, RD-170 academician B.Katorgin explains

Creator of the world's best liquid rocket engines Academician Boris Katorgin explains why Americans still can not repeat our achievements in this area and how to preserve the Soviet head start in the future.

  • Academician Boris Katorgin did much to our rocket engines have become the most reliable in the world expert_809_050.jpg Photo: Alexander Kroupnov
  • Academician Boris Katorgin did much to our rocket engines have become the most reliable in the world expert_809_050.jpg Photo: Alexander Kroupnov

Academician Boris Katorgin did much to our rocket engines have become the most reliable in the world Photo: Alexander Kroupnov

June 21 at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum were awarded winners of the "Global Energy". Authoritative commission of industry experts from different countries chose three applications of the presented 639 and named winners of the award in 2012, which is habitually referred to as "the Nobel Prize for the power industry." As a result, 33 million rubles in bonuses this year shared the famous inventor of the UK professor Rodney John Allam and two of our distinguished scientists — Academicians Boris Katorgin and Valery Kostyuk.


All three of them are related to the creation of cryogenics, the study of the properties of cryogenic products and their application in various power plants. Academician Boris Katorgin was awarded "for the development of high-performance liquid rocket engines for cryogenic fuels that provide high energy parameters reliable operation of space systems for the peaceful use of outer space." With the direct participation Katorgina more than fifty years the company has devoted OKB-456, now known as the NGO "Energomash" created liquid rocket engines (LRE), the performances of which now are considered the best in the world. Katorgin himself engaged in the development schemes of the working process in the engines, components of fuel mixture formation and elimination of pulsations in the combustion chamber. There are also his fundamental research in nuclear rocket engines (NRE) with high specific impulse and experience in the field of high-power cw chemical lasers.

In the darkest times of Russian high-tech organizations, from 1991 to 2009, led by Boris Katorgin NPO "Energomash" combining the positions of CEO and chief designer, and managed to not only keep the company, but also a number of new engines. The lack of an internal order for engines made Katorgina seek customers in foreign markets. One of the new engines RD-180 was developed in 1995 in order to participate in the tender organized by the American company Lockheed Martin, chooses to LRE then modernized rocket "Atlas". As a result, the NGO "Energomash" has signed a contract for the supply of 101 engine and the beginning of 2012 has put the United States in more than 60 rocket engines, 35 of which have worked successfully in the "Atlas" in the derivation of satellites for various purposes.

Before the award of the prize "expert" talked with Academician Boris Katorgina on the state and prospects of development of liquid rocket engines and found out why based on the work of forty-year-old engines are still considered innovative and RD-180 could not be recreated on American factories.

Boris Ivanovic, in than namely yours merit in creation domestic Liquid jet engine and now considered the best in the world?

— To explain it in layman probably need a special skill. For LRE I designed combustion chamber, gas generators, in general, oversaw the creation of the engines themselves to the peaceful exploration of outer space. (In the combustion chamber is a mixture and the combustion of fuel and oxidizer, and the volume of hot gases produced, which then throwing out through the nozzles to generate its own jet thrust, in gas generators and fuel mixture is burned, but for turbo pumps that are under tremendous pressure injected fuel and oxidizer in the same combustion chamber. "Expert ".)

You say about peace development Space though clear that all Engines thrust from more dozens 800 tons, which created in NGO "Energomash " intended formerly only to military needs.

— We did not have to lose any of the atomic bomb, we delivered on our rockets or one nuclear weapon to the target, and the glory of God. All military achievements went to peaceful outer space. We can be proud of the huge contribution of our rocket and space technology in the development of human civilization. Thanks to the entire aerospace technology clusters were born: space navigation, telecommunications, satellite TV, a sensing system.

Engine to intercontinental ballistic rocket P-9 over which you worked then lay down in basis slightly whether not the whole our Manned program.

— Back in the late 1950s, I spent a calculation and experimental work to improve mixing in the combustion chambers of the RD-111, which was intended for the very missiles. The results of the work are still used in modified engines RD-107 and RD-108 for the same rocket "Soyuz", they occurred about two thousand space missions, including all manned space program.

Two year back I taking interview at your Colleagues, Laureate "Global energy " Academician Alexander Leontief. In conversation about closed to wide public specialists Kojima Leontiev himself when-that was he mentioned Vitali Ievleva, too lot has made to our Space the industry.

— Many academics working for the defense were kept secret — it's a fact. Much now declassified — it is also a fact. Alexander Ivanovich I know well: he worked on the design procedures and methods of cooling the combustion chambers of various rocket engines. Solve the technological problem was not easy, especially when we started to squeeze the maximum chemical energy of the fuel mixture for maximum specific impulse, among other measures, increasing the pressure in the combustion chambers up to 250 atmospheres. Take our most powerful engine — the RD-170. Consumption of fuel with an oxidant — kerosene and liquid oxygen, going through the engine — 2.5 tons per second. Heat fluxes in it up to 50 megawatts per square meter — that's a great energy. The temperature in the combustion chamber — 3.5 thousand degrees Celsius. We had to come up with special cooling to the combustion chamber so that it can withstand the computational work and the thermal head. Alexander is just that and doing, and I must say, he labored to fame. Vitaly M. Ievlev — Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor, unfortunately, quite early deceased — was a scholar of wide profile, had an encyclopedic erudition. As Leontiev, he has worked on the method of calculating the thermal design of highly stressed. Their work somewhere crossed somewhere integrated, and in the end we got a great technique on which we can calculate calorific any combustion chambers, and now, perhaps, by using it, it can make any student. In addition, Vitaly Mikhailovich took an active part in the development of nuclear, plasma rocket engines. Here our interests intersect in the years when the "Energomash" did the same.

In our interview with Leontiev we affected Thread sale energomashevskih Engines RD-180 in USA and Alexander Ivanovic said that in respects this engine — result developments, which were made as time at creation RD-170 and in what-that sense its half. What this — really result Reverse scaling?

— Any engine in a new dimension — it is, of course, the new device. RD-180 with a thrust of 400 tons is really half the RD-170 with a thrust of 800 tons. In the RD-191, designed for our new missile "Angara", the thrust of 200 tons altogether. What is common in these engines? All of them have one turbo pump, but the combustion chambers at RD-170 four, the "American" RD-180 — two, in the RD-191 — one. For every engine needs its turbopump assembly — after all, if one-chamber RD-170 consumes about 2.5 tons of fuel per second, which was developed by the turbo pump capacity of 180,000 kilowatts, more than twice as superior, for example, the reactor power is nuclear powered icebreaker "Arktika" , the two-chamber RD-180 — only half, 1.2 tons. In the development of turbopumps for the RD-180 and RD-191, I have participated directly and at the same time led the creation of these engines in general.

Camera combustion mean on All these engines one and that same only number their different?

— Yes, and that is our main achievement. In one such chamber diameter of 380 millimeters burns a little more than 0.6 tons of fuel per second. Without exaggeration, this camera — a unique vysokoteplonapryazhennoe equipment with special protection zones of strong heat fluxes. Protection is carried out not only by external cooling of the chamber walls, but also because of the Smart Way "vystilaniya" on them film of fuel, which evaporates and cools the wall. On the basis of this outstanding camera that is second in the world is, we make the best of your engines: RD-170 and RD-171 for "Energy" and "Zenith", the RD-180 for the U.S. "Atlas" and the RD-191 engine for the new Russian missiles "Angara".

— "Angara " to was replacing "Proton-M " more several years ago but creators rocket faced with serious problems first flight Test repeatedly postponed, and project sort of would continues slip.

— The problems really were. Who made the decision to launch the rocket in 2013. Feature of the "Angara" is that on the basis of its universal rocket module, you can create a whole family of launch vehicles carrying capacity from 2.5 tons to 25 tons of cargo for output to low-Earth orbit based on the same universal oxygen-kerosene RD-191 engine. "Angara-1" has one engine, "Angara-3" — three with the general thrust of 600 tons, the "Angara-5" will be 1000 tons of thrust, which means it can be put into orbit more cargo than the "Proton". In addition, instead of the highly toxic heptyl, which is burned in engines "Proton", we use environmentally friendly fuel, after combustion of which are only water but carbon dioxide.

happened that that same RD-170 which created more in the mid-1970s —x, to now then remains on Essentially, innovative product and its Technology used in as base to new LRE?

— A similar thing happened with the airplane established after the Second World Vladimir Mikhailovich Myasishchev (long-range strategic bomber M-series, the development of the Moscow OKB-23, 1950. — "Expert "). In many respects, the plane ahead of his time in the thirty years or so, and the elements of its design then borrowed the other aircraft manufacturers. So here: RD-170 in a lot of new elements, materials, and design solutions. In my estimation, they do not expire for several more decades. This attributed primarily to the founder of the NGO "Energomash" and its chief designer Valentin Petrovich Glushko and corresponding member of the RAS Vitaly Radovskii, who headed the company after the death of Glushko. (Note that the world's best energy and performance of the RD-170 is largely provided by addressing the problem Katorgina suppress high-frequency combustion instability by developing antipulsatsionnyh partitions in the same combustion chamber. — "Expert ".) A engine RD-253 first-stage launch vehicle for the "Proton"? Put into service in 1965, he is so perfect that so far no one has surpassed. That's what taught design Glushko — at the limit of the possible and certainly above average. It is important to remember something else: the country has invested in its technological future. As it was in the Soviet Union? Department of General Engineering, in charge of, in particular, are space and missiles, only on R &D has spent 22 percent of its huge budget — in all areas, including the motor. Today, the volume of research funding is much smaller, and that says a lot.

Not means whether achievement these LRE some committed qualities and happened this half a century ago that missile engine with chemical source energy in what-that sense outlives yourself: main opening made and in new generations LRE now speech is rather about so called supporting innovation?

— Of course not. Liquid rocket engines needed and will be needed for a long time, because no other technique is not able to more reliably and cost-effectively lift the load from the ground and bring it into orbit. They are safe for the environment, especially those that run on liquid oxygen and kerosene. But for the flight to the stars and other galaxies expander, of course, is not acceptable. Mass of the entire metagalaxies — 1056 grams. In order to be dispersed by LRE at least a quarter of the speed of light, take an incredible amount of fuel — 103200 grams, so to even think about that stupid. At LRE has a niche — boosters. On liquid engines can overclock the media to the escape velocity, fly to Mars, and all.

Next stage — nuclear missile engines?

— Of course. Will we live before some stages — is unknown, and for the development of the NRE, much has been done already in the Soviet period. Now, under the leadership of Keldysh Research Center, headed by Academician Anatoly Sazonovichem Koroteyev developed the so-called transport-power module. Designers have come to the conclusion that it is possible to create a less stressful than it was in the Soviet Union, the nuclear gas-cooled reactor, which will operate as a power plant, and as a source of energy for plasma thrusters while traveling in space. Such a reactor is now projected to NIKIET N. Dollezhal a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yuri G. Dragunov. The project also involved KB Kaliningrad's "Torch", which builds electric propulsion. As in Soviet times, is not without Voronezh KB Chemical Automation, which will be manufactured gas turbines, compressors, to a closed circuit to drive coolant — gas mixture.

A while Fly on LRE?

— Of course, we can clearly see the prospects for the further development of these engines. There are tactical problems, long-term, there is no limit: the introduction of new, more heat-resistant coatings, new composite materials, reducing engine weight, increased reliability, simplified control scheme. You can implement a number of elements to more closely monitor the wear of parts and other processes occurring in the engine. There are strategic objectives: for example, the development of liquefied natural gas as fuel methane and acetylene with ammonia or three-fuels. NPO "Energomash" develops three-engine. Such an expander may be used as a motor and the first and second stages. In the first stage it uses well mastered components: oxygen, liquid paraffin, and adding about five percent hydrogen, it will significantly increase the specific impulse of — one of the main power of the engine, and it means that it is possible to send more payload space. The first stage produces all the hydrogen with the addition of kerosene, and the second the same engine passes from work on ternary fuel bicomponent — hydrogen and oxygen.

We have created an experimental engine, however, small dimension and thrust of about 7 tons, conducted 44 tests done full-scale mixing elements in the nozzle in the gas generator, the combustion chamber and found out that it is possible to work on the first three components, and then gradually move to two. All turns out, achieve high combustion efficiency, but to go further, we need a larger sample, you need to refine stands to run into the combustion chamber components that we are going to use in this engine: liquid hydrogen and oxygen, as well as kerosene. I think this is a very promising direction and a big step forward. And I hope to have time to do something in life.

Why Americans received right on reproduction RD-180, not can do its already lot years?

— Americans are very pragmatic. In the 1990s, at the beginning of working with us, they realized that in the energy field, we are far ahead of them and we need to adopt these technologies. For example, our engine RD-170 in a single run through the greater specific impulse could take a payload to two tons more than their most powerful F-1, which meant that at the time the $ 20 million prize. They have announced a competition for the engine thrust of 400 tons for his "Atlas", which won our RD-180. Then the Americans thought they begin to work with us, and in four years will take our technology and will play them yourself. I immediately said to them: You will spend more than a billion dollars and ten years. Four years passed, and they say, yes, it is necessary for six years. It took another few years, they say, no, we must further eight years. It's been seventeen years old, and they may not have reproduced one engine. They are now only on the bench equipment it needs billions of dollars. We have to "Energomash" there are stands where in the chamber can be tested the same engine RD-170 jet power which reaches 27 million kilowatts.

I not misheard — 27 gigawatt? This more installed Power All NPP "Rosatom ".

— Twenty-seven gigawatts — is the power of the jet, which develops relatively short time. When tested on the stand first jet energy is quenched in a special pool, then in the tube dispersion diameter of 16 meters and a height of 100 meters. To build a similar stand, which houses the engine, creating a power, it is necessary to invest a lot of money. Americans now have abandoned this and take the finished product. As a result, we do not sell raw materials and the product with great added value, which is nested in a highly intellectual labor. Unfortunately, in Russia it is a rare example of a high-tech sales abroad in such a large scale. But this proves that the correct formulation of the problem, we are capable of much.

Boris Ivanovic, that must do that not lose handicap, typed Soviet rocket engine building? Probably except lack of funding Research and development very painful and other problem — HR?

— To stay in the global market, we must always go forward, create new products. Apparently, while we're not completely was pressed and the thunder struck. But the state must realize that no new developments it will be on the margins of the global market, and today, in this time of transition, we have not yet matured to normal capitalism, the new must first of all put it — the state. Then you can transfer the development to production of a series of private companies on terms favorable to the state and business. I do not believe that coming up with a reasonable method of creating the new is impossible without the development and innovation of talk is useless.

Frames are. I manage a department at the Moscow Aviation Institute, where we train and engine specialists and laser scientists. Umnyuschie guys, they want to deal with the case, who are learning, but we need to give them a normal initial momentum, so they did not leave, as now, many, write programs for the distribution of goods in the shops. For this we need to create an appropriate laboratory environment to give a decent salary. Line up the correct structure of interaction between science and the Ministry of Education. Same Academy of Sciences solves a lot of issues related to personnel training. Indeed, among the current members of the Academy, the corresponding members of many professionals who manage high-tech enterprises and research institutions, powerful KB. They have a direct interest to at assigned to their organizations chairs were brought up necessary expertise in the field of engineering, physics, chemistry, so that they immediately receive is not just the profile of the graduates and prepares professionals with some vital scientific and technical expertise. So it was always: the best professionals were born in the institutions and in enterprises where there were educational department. We have to "Energomash" and Lavochkin NPO work department of the branch MAI "Comet", which I direct. There are old pictures that can convey the experience of young people. But the time is nearly here, and the loss will be irreparable: to just go back to the existing level now have to spend a lot more effort than today need to maintain it.

Irik Imamutdinov

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