Press Release

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Powers Launch of U.S. Military Orbital Test Vehicle

By SpaceRef Editor
March 5, 2011
Filed under , ,
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Powers Launch of U.S. Military Orbital Test Vehicle

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne today helped boost into orbit the U.S. military’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, demonstrating its continued support for the nation’s long-term goals of affordable, responsive and routine space exploration. The mission was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The Atlas V is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 booster engine and a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10 upper-stage engine. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company. RD AMROSS LLC is a joint venture of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and NPO Energomash.

“Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is pleased to be part of such an important mission by providing power for the U.S. military,” said Jim Maus, director, expendable propulsion programs, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. “This is the RL10’s 48th year of flight, and as the world’s first liquid-hydrogen fueled rocket engine, we’re proud to see it continue its legacy as one of the nation’s most reliable upper-stage engines.”

“RD AMROSS congratulates the U.S. Air Force and United Launch Alliance on another successful launch,” said Tom Wonnell, president and CEO of RD AMROSS. “We look forward to working together to ensure future successful missions.”

The X-37B is one of the world’s newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft, designed to operate in low-earth orbit, 110 to 500 miles above the Earth at speeds of about 17,500 miles per hour. The vehicle is the first since the space shuttle with the ability to return experiments to Earth for further inspection and analysis.

The Atlas V Centaur upper stage is powered by a single RL10A4-2 engine that delivers 22,300 pounds of thrust. The Atlas V Common Core booster is powered by the RD-180 engine and delivers nearly 1 million pounds of thrust. The RD-180 is the only liquid oxygen-kerosene fueled engine with an oxygen-rich staged combustion cycle flying in the United States today.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a part of Pratt & Whitney, is a preferred provider of high-value propulsion, power, energy and innovative system solutions used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, missile defense systems and advanced hypersonic engines. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is headquartered in Canoga Park, Calif., and has facilities in Huntsville, Ala.; Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Stennis Space Center, Miss. For more information about Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, go to

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 commercial building industries.

SpaceRef staff editor.