Press Release

One Step Closer to Next-Generation Spaceflight: RS-84 Engine Passes Preliminary Design Milestone

By SpaceRef Editor
July 15, 2003
Filed under ,

The kerosene-fueled RS-84 engine, one of several technologies competing
to
power NASA’s next generation of launch vehicles, has successfully
completed
its preliminary design review.

The RS-84 is a reusable, liquid booster engine that will deliver a
thrust
level of 1 million pounds of force. The design of the prototype engine
is
being developed by the Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power Division of the
Boeing
Company, in Canoga Park, Calif., for NASA’s Next Generation Launch
Technology Program.

The program, part of NASA’s Space Launch Initiative, seeks to develop
key
space launch technologies — engines and propulsion systems, hardware
and
integrated launch systems — that will provide the foundation for
America’s
future space fleet.

The preliminary design review is a lengthy technical analysis that
evaluates
engine design according to stringent system requirements. The review
ensures
development is on target to meet Next Generation Launch Technology
program
goals: improved safety, reliability and cost. The review is conducted
when
the engine design is approximately 50 percent complete and engine
drawings
are approximately 10 percent complete.

“We’ve cleared our first major hurdle and the foundation is set for
ensuring
delivery of a safe, cost effective engine that will meet the
next-generation
launch requirements of NASA and the Department of Defense,” said Danny
Davis, project manager for the RS-84 project at NASA’s Marshall Space
Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala.

“We have a highly experienced team working on this unique design
challenge,”
Davis added. “I am very proud of the creativity offered by Rocketdyne,
and
of the thorough, constructive analysis provided by NASA’s insight team.”

The design team’s next major program milestone is the “40k” preburner
test,
a series of test-firings of a nearly full-scale preburner yielding
40,000
pounds of thrust. The test series, which will be conducted at NASA’s
Stennis
Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss., is scheduled to be completed in
September. The final RS-84 prototype is expected to begin full-scale
test
firing by the end of 2007.

The RS-84 is one of two competing efforts now under way to develop an
alternative to conventional, hydrogen-fueled engine technologies. The
RS-84
is a reusable, staged combustion rocket engine fueled by kerosene — a
relatively low-maintenance fuel with high performance and high density,
meaning it takes less fuel-tank volume to permit greater propulsive
force
than other technologies. That benefit translates to more compact engine
systems, easier fuel handling and loading on the ground, and shorter
turnaround time between launches. All these gains, in turn, reduce the
overall cost of launch operations, making routine space flight cheaper
and
more attractive to commercial enterprises.

“No engine yet conceived meets the expectations of high reliability,
high
reusability mission life and responsiveness that is part of the RS-84
design,” Davis said. “Our design incorporates the latest in materials
development, advanced software to monitor and predict problems, and
lessons
learned from past engine technology efforts.”

“The RS-84 preliminary design was shown to satisfy NASA’s goals,
supporting
an order of magnitude improvement in safety/reliability and operating
cost,”
said Roger Campbell, deputy program manager of Boeing Rocketdyne’s RS-84
engine team.

NASA’s Next Generation Launch Technology Program is developing and
demonstrating innovative technologies in the areas of propulsion,
systems
integration and launch operations. The work of the program is intended
to
yield complete, next-generation space transportation systems that will
provide low-cost space access and reinvigorate the U.S. space launch
market,
enabling stronger competition with international space agencies and
private
commercial entities, enabling stronger domestic and international
competition.

For more information about the Next Generation Launch Technology
Program,
visit:

http://www.slinews.com

SpaceRef staff editor.