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Proton Rocket Engines Production To Stop By The End Of 2018

Proton assembly at Khrunichev Center; Credits: RIA Novosti Ramil Sitdikov

According Igor Arbuzov, General Director of NPO Energomash, the production of the engines for the Proton-M heavy-lift launch vehicle is to be ceased by the end of 2018. However, it is possible to resume production if there are new contracts for these launch vehicles.

He notes that the current priority for the enterprise is to get orders from the fuel and energy sector, combustion turbine units testing, gas turbine electric power station assembly and testing, pump equipment production for the oil and gas industry. Arbuzov also notes that the new production is planned to be moved to the enterprise’s platform in the village of Novye Lyady.

During the launch of a Proton on June 9, 2016 as well as the failed Soyuz-U launch in December, 2016, certain quality problems came to light. The investigation showed that the Voronezh Mechanical Plant, where Proton rockets were produced, used solder that did not meet the technical requirements. As a result, 74 engines for the Proton second and third stages were sent for the overhaul in 2017.

To solve the problems, the company has implemented new manufacturing equipment, in particular, seven modern endoscopes with photo and video fixing function, 59 new digital torque wrenches that allow recording the tightening torque and provide data to the whole system, an electronic hardness tester, metal composition analyzers and other digital measuring equipment. The company is also to receive a 3D scanner for non-contact part measurement, equipment for photographic recording of assembly processes, etc. Furthermore, it is planned to spend $2.170.000 on a live monitoring and recording system.

As previously reported, the enterprise is to become part of a new integrated system managed by NPO Energomash, which will unite all rocket engine manufacturing enterprises. The holding company already included Chemical Automatics Design Bureau and Proton-PM. In addition to the Voronezh Mechanical Plant, A.M. Isayev Chemical Engineering Design Bureau and JSC R&DIME are to be included by the end of the year.

Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of Roscosmos, said earlier that when the production of the Proton ceased, only the Angara launch vehicle would be used.

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