An engine developed for Russia’s aborted manned lunar programme is to be used for the proposed Soyuz-3 launch vehicle for Moscow-based Energia’s six-crew Kliper spacecraft.

The Soyuz-3 consists of a core stage, several strap-on boosters referred to as the first stage, and an upper stage. It is the core stage that would use an NK-33 liquid oxygen/kerosene engine, developed for use on the first stage of the Soviet N-1 Moon Launch Vehicle.

About 450 NK-33 engines were produced during the late 1960s and early 1970s, but were never flown.

The N-1 would have launched Russia’s two-man lunar missions. “About 70 of these [NK-33s] are still in stock. Some of them were sold to [US company] Aerojet and have undergone test firings in the USA,” says Soviet space programme expert, Bart Hendrickx.

Aerojet now markets its versions of the NK-33 as the AJ26-58, -59 and -61. The NK-33 was designed by the Nikolai Kuznetsov Scientific Technical Complex in Samara, south-east Russia.

According to information obtained by Flight International, the Soyuz-3 would use the RD-120.10F liquid oxygen/kerosene engine, based on the Yuzhnoye Zenit’s second-stage Energomash RD-120 engine, for its first stage strap-on rockets.

The upper stage would use the new RD-0146E liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine from the Russian design bureau of chemical automatics.


Source: Flight International