Press Release

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Main Engines Add New Measure of Safety to Space Station-Bound Shuttle

By SpaceRef Editor
August 9, 2007
Filed under , ,
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Main Engines Add New Measure of Safety to Space Station-Bound Shuttle

Three Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engines, fitted with upgraded controllers to actively monitor engine health and performance, powered the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center today. The Endeavour is on Mission STS-118 to the International Space Station (ISS). Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) is a United Technologies Corp. [NYSE: UTX] company and has powered the Space Shuttle since its first mission in 1981.

This successful launch comes just days after NASA awarded Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne a nearly $1 billion contract extension to continue maintaining the agency’s fleet of Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs).

All three of Endeavour’s SSMEs carried the new Advanced Health Management System (AHMS) controllers which monitor engine vibration and have the ability to detect real versus false signals. For this mission, all three of the controllers were active and could have prompted actions in the engine systems if unacceptable vibration levels were detected during the eight-and -one-half- minute firing of the engines during launch.

“This is a major upgrade for the engines,” said Jim Paulsen, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne SSME program manager, “and we’re excited to finally put the new AHMS into action after years of hard work from a dedicated team of NASA, PWR and Honeywell personnel. Once again, the team has succeeded in introducing advancements that further enhance flight safety.”

The AHMS controller was developed in conjunction with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Honeywell International and is an engine enhancement that is expected to improve flight safety by 23 percent with real-time automatic response to potential issues.

Endeavour will deliver the S5 Truss and SPACEHAB on the twenty-second mission to ISS. The S5 is the third starboard truss element, as assembly of ISS continues.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s SSME is the world’s only re-usable high performance liquid rocket engine. Today’s successful launch brings the fleet total to 357 engine flights and nearly 183,000 seconds of flight operation. Upon return of Endeavour, the SSMEs will be removed from the orbiter and prepared for future missions.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., a part of Pratt & Whitney, offers a complete line of propulsion products from launch vehicles to missile defense to advanced hypersonic propulsion. These have been used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main and upper stage engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, and high altitude defense systems. Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building industries.

SpaceRef staff editor.