Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Begins Certification Testing of the RS-68A Rocket Engine
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has completed the initial step in certifying the RS-68A rocket engine by successfully hot-fire testing the first certification engine. The RS-68A is an upgrade of the RS-68, a liquid-hydrogen/liquid-oxygen booster engine that will provide increased thrust and improved fuel efficiency for the Delta IV family of launch vehicles. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company.
"The RS-68A certification engine ran very well, and we obtained the data we needed to proceed with additional tests," said Jim Tibble, RS-68A engine development project manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. "Development testing is complete, certification testing has started and it's an exciting time. We will be reviewing data to fully analyze engine performance, to verify compliance with requirements, and to ensure 100 percent mission success as we proceed through the certification process for this next-generation rocket engine."
During the hot-fire test at John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the first RS-68A certification engine successfully burned for 190 seconds, with operating time split between 102 percent and 55 percent power levels. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will hot-fire test the first RS-68A certification engine a minimum of 12 times through February and follow that with a similar series of hot-fire tests on its second certification engine in March and April. Engine design certification review and acceptance of flight readiness are currently planned for July 2010. Like the RS-68, three RS-68A engines will be used to boost a Delta IV Heavy rocket, but each RS-68A engine will provide 702,000 pounds of thrust, or 39,000 more pounds of thrust than a single RS-68 engine.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., 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 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.