United Launch Alliance tweeted that it received the first BE-4 rocket engine from Blue Origin, designed to replace the Russian RD-180.
The unit is not a serial; it will be used for testing together with the carrier, a representative of Blue Origin told the Space News portal.
The company plans to deliver the second BE-4 by the end of July.
Russian RD-180 engines are equipped with Atlas family missiles. A Vulcan carrier replaces them. It is assumed that the VE-4 power plant will work on the first stage.
According to analysts, Atlas is used for “critical space launches carried out in the interests of US national security.””
— ULA (@ulalaunch) July 1, 2020
National Interest magazine wrote that the law obliges the US air force to refuse to use the RD-180, but, according to the publication’s forecasts, this will not happen until at least 2024.
Congress also recognized that it is impossible to replace Russian engines with American ones in the coming years.
The first RD-180 was delivered to the US in 1999. In total, according to the manufacturer — NPO Energomash, 116 engines were sent overseas.