Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Demonstrates Descent Engine Technologies for Future Space Vehicle Landings
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne's Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE) demonstrated a throttling range 35 percent greater than in previous tests, as well as several new technology breakthroughs to support space exploration. The CECE is a 15,000-pound thrust class cryogenic demonstrator rocket engine. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX).
This was the fourth series of CECE tests conducted at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in West Palm Beach over the past five years under a NASA contract to demonstrate cryogenic engine technologies that could be used for space exploration activities, including landing on the moon, an asteroid or another planet. One of the key technologies is "deep throttling," or a wide range of thrust that enables a spacecraft to maintain adequate thrust for in-space travel, yet be able to power down for a precise, gentle landing on any unfamiliar surface.
"In all, we have demonstrated the ability to deliver a thrust range from 104 percent of rated power down to 5.9 percent," said Victor Giuliano, CECE program manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. "This equates to an unprecedented 17.6-to-1 deep-throttling capability in a cryogenic engine.
"The CECE also successfully demonstrated closed-loop engine control across the full throttling range, which allows software to better control engine operations and improve fuel efficiency; the ability to start the engine at a minimum power level as low as 10 percent; and the capability to repeatedly restart the engine at varying power levels in a short amount of time. These are all 'firsts' for cryogenic engine technology," said Giuliano.
"NASA will benefit from the advancements Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has made to this technology, and I'm confident that the cosmos will be opened and available to humanity, in no small part, because of the company's achievements," said. Dr. Frank Peri, manager of the Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) at NASA's Langley Research Center.
The CECE demonstrator engine program is funded by the Propulsion and Cryogenics Advanced Development project under ETDP.
The total run time for the Demonstration 1.7 test series was 2,403 seconds, which, when combined with the previous three test series, brings the program's total engine run time to 7,436 seconds, or 124 minutes of gathering data to advance future NASA throttling engine development.
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. For more information about Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, go to www.prattwhitneyrocketdyne.com.
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.