Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Main Engine Promises Even Safer Shuttle Ride

Date:
April 30, 2001
Source:
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center
Summary:
The next Space Shuttle crew can expect an even safer ride into orbit, thanks to the completion of a new Space Shuttle Main Engine. Workers installed one of the new engines, called the Block II configuration, on Space Shuttle Atlantis, April 24, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

The next Space Shuttle crew can expect an even safer ride into orbit, thanks to the completion of a new Space Shuttle Main Engine. Workers installed one of the new engines, called the Block II configuration, on Space Shuttle Atlantis, April 24, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Related Articles


Atlantis' first flight using the new engine is targeted for no earlier than June 14 on mission STS-104 to the International Space Station. Atlantis will use one Block II Main Engine and two Block IIA Main Engines to complete its full complement of three engines.

Improvements to the main engines, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., continue to evolve to produce the safest, most reliable and reusable space transportation system in the world.

The Block II Main Engine configuration includes a new Pratt & Whitney high-pressure fuel turbopump.

The primary modification to the engine is elimination of welds by using a casting process for the housing, and an integral shaft/disk with thin-wall blades and ceramic bearings. This makes the pump stronger and should increase the number of flights between major overhauls. Although the new pump adds 300 pounds (135 kilograms) of weight to the Shuttle, the results are a more reliable and safer engine because of increased pump robustness.

"With this design change, we believe we have more than doubled the reliability of the engine," said George Hopson, manager of the Space Shuttle Main Engine Project at Marshall.

Previous improvements to the Space Shuttle Main Engine include the Block I configuration, which featured an improved high-pressure liquid oxygen turbopump, two-duct engine power head and single-coil heat exchanger. The turbopump incorporated ball bearings of silicon nitride -- a ceramic material 30 percent harder and 40 percent lighter than steel. The Block I engine first flew in 1995.

The Block IIA engine added a larger-throat main-combustion chamber to Block I improvements. The new chamber lowered the engine's operating pressures and temperatures while increasing the engine's operational safety margin. This engine first flew in 1998.

Developed in the 1970s by Marshall, the Space Shuttle Main Engine is the world's most sophisticated reusable rocket engine. Each powerful Main Engine is 14 feet long (4.3 meters), weighs about 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms) and is 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) in diameter at the end of the nozzle.

The engines operate for about eight-and-one-half minutes during liftoff and ascent and shut down just before the Shuttle reaches low-Earth orbit.

The engines perform at greater temperature extremes than any mechanical system in common use today. At minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 217 degrees Celsius), the liquid hydrogen fuel is the second coldest liquid on Earth. When it and the liquid oxygen are combusted, the temperature in the main combustion chamber of the engine is 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit (3,316 degrees Celsius), hotter than the boiling point of iron.

Boeing Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, Calif., manufactures the Space Shuttle Main Engine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "New Main Engine Promises Even Safer Shuttle Ride." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427073223.htm>.
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. (2001, April 30). New Main Engine Promises Even Safer Shuttle Ride. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427073223.htm
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center. "New Main Engine Promises Even Safer Shuttle Ride." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427073223.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins