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NASA engineers successfully tested a Russian-built rocket engine on November 4, 1998 at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Advanced Engine Test Facility, which had been used for testing the Saturn V F-1 engines and Space Shuttle Main engines. The MSFC was under a Space Act Agreement with Lockheed Martin Astronautics of Denver to provide a series of test firings of the Atlas III propulsion system configured with the Russian-designed RD-180 engine. The tests were designed to measure the performance of the Atlas III propulsion system, which included avionics and propellant tanks and lines, and how these components interacted with the RD-180 engine. The RD-180 is powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen, the same fuel mix used in Saturn rockets. The RD-180, the most powerful rocket engine tested at the MSFC since Saturn rocket tests in the 1960s, generated 860,000 pounds of thrust.
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