Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Space Launch System providing engine 'brains' with an upgrade

Date:
October 18, 2012
Source:
NASA
Summary:
America's next heavy-lift rocket needs a strong and reliable engine to launch humans beyond low Earth orbit. That's why engineers with NASA's Space Launch System program, managed at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will use the proven RS-25, the space shuttle's main engine during its 30-year history, to power the massive rocket's core stage. The RS-25, which was designed and developed with NASA by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., is a crucial part to the core stage design, but a few enhancements are planned.

During a recent tour for Space Launch System Program managers, Mike Kynard, center, manager of the program's Engines element office, explains how test personnel use working parts from an RS-25 engine to test the new engine control unit at the Marshall Space Flight Center test facilities.
Credit: NASA/MSFC

America's next heavy-lift rocket needs a strong and reliable engine to launch humans beyond low Earth orbit. That's why engineers with NASA's Space Launch System program, managed at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will use the proven RS-25, the space shuttle's main engine during its 30-year history, to power the massive rocket's core stage. The RS-25, which was designed and developed with NASA by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., is a crucial part to the core stage design, but a few enhancements are planned.

While the RS-25 engines launched 135 missions, it needs a new "brain" to drive the 3.5-ton engine.

"The computer controlling the SSME was manufactured in the early '80s and many parts are now obsolete," said Jeremy Richard, SLS Liquid Engines Office Subsystem manager. "While working on updating the technology, we discovered we could adapt the same controller being used by the new J-2X engine to the RS-25 engine, effectively streamlining the controller and resulting in a cost savings."

The role of an engine controller unit is to allow communication between the vehicle and the engine, sending commands down to the engine and transmitting data back to the vehicle. The controller also provides closed loop management of the engine by regulating thrust and fuel mixture ratio while monitoring the engine's health and status.

"Our long-term objective is to use the same basic hardware design to control multiple engines," Richard said. "With a common physical design and just a few card change outs, we could control the RS-25, J-2X, and future engine designs at less than half the cost of a space shuttle main engine controller."

Engineers with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne are hard at work on the J-2X engine control unit in Building 4436 at the Marshall Center. The J-2X will power the upper stage of the evolved heavy-lift rocket, capable of lifting 130 metric tons beyond low Earth orbit.

Meanwhile, in a separate room barely 20 feet away, the same controller with a few minor alterations is undergoing rigorous testing for the RS-25. This room houses equipment to simulate the engine in flight, using real RS-25 actuators, connectors and harnesses.

SLS engineers will spend the coming year fine-tuning the design and testing the controller unit at the Marshall Center. Once they have a proven lab-tested version, the controller will be moved to the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for hot-fire testing in 2014.

Building on an established infrastructure but with a modern design, the ultimate goal is a universal rocket engine controller.

Watch the video below for a closer look at a recent test of the RS-25 engine controller unit: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=154074051


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. The original article was written by Bill Hubscher, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "Space Launch System providing engine 'brains' with an upgrade." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121018105031.htm>.
NASA. (2012, October 18). Space Launch System providing engine 'brains' with an upgrade. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121018105031.htm
NASA. "Space Launch System providing engine 'brains' with an upgrade." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121018105031.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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