For release: 04/09/02
Status report #: 02-081
‘New’ Space Shuttle Main Engines perform flawlessly
The Space Shuttle’s “new lift” – three improved Main Engines — provided a flawless launch Monday boosting Atlantis into orbit at 3:44 p.m. (CDT) on Mission STS-110. The initial look at the data indicates the launch was smooth and all three of the new engines performed as expected, said George Hopson, manager of the Space Shuttle Main Engine Project Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala..
Photo: Shuttle Main Engine in test stand run (NASA/MSFC)
This is the first flight with a complement of three enhanced engines. The improved engines will make the world’s only reusable launch vehicle safer and more reliable than ever before.
The enhanced engines — called Block II Main Engines — incorporate an improved high-pressure fuel turbopump with a stronger integral shaft/disk and tougher-than-steel bearings.
The new design also eliminates welds in the turbopump by using a casting process for the housing. This makes the pump stronger and should increase the number of flights between major overhauls, according to Hopson.
The new turbopump is not much larger than an automobile engine, yet it generates 360 times the horsepower.
A single Block II Main Engine was demonstrated in July 2001 on the STS-104 mission and again on the STS-108 mission in December 2001.
Pratt & Whitney of West Palm Beach, Fla., developed the new turbopump.
Boeing Rocketdyne is responsible for the manufacture of the Space Shuttle Main Engine. NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi tests the engines.
The Space Shuttle Project Office at Marshall oversees the Main Engines, the Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Boosters and Reusable Solid Rocket Motors, and the External Tank.
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