Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Boosts Latest Mars Rover to the Red Planet
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne demonstrated the consistent reliability of its power and propulsion systems by successfully boosting the Mars Science Laboratory rover, which will travel to the red planet to assess its habitability. The mission launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The Atlas V is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 booster engine, and the Centaur upper stage is powered by the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10 engine. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company, has powered 14 successful launches this year with payloads that included humans; cargo; and satellites vital to space exploration, worldwide communication, navigation, defense, research and development, and weather prediction. RD AMROSS LLC is a joint venture of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and NPO Energomash.
"This successful launch adds to the decades and decades of reliability that the RL10 has shown in placing payloads into space," said Jim Maus, director, hypersonic and expendable propulsion programs, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. "Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne remains committed to 100 percent mission success, and we look forward to working with our partners in future missions."
"The Mars Science Laboratory marks another step in our collective quest for knowledge about Mars and its habitability; RD AMROSS is proud that the RD-180 booster engine contributed toward its successful launch," said Bill Parsons, president and CEO of RD AMROSS.
The rover, named Curiosity, is expected to land on Mars in August and operate for at least one Martian year, or 686 Earth days. During that time, the rover will assess whether the red planet is, or ever was able to support microbial life. Curiosity will also analyze samples scooped up from the soil and drilled powders from rocks. The rover will be more than five times as massive, carry more than 10 times the mass of scientific instruments as rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and explore a greater range than any previous Mars rover.
The Atlas V Centaur upper stage is powered by a single RL10A4-2 engine that delivers 22,300 pounds of thrust. The Atlas V Common Core booster is powered by the RD-180 engine and delivers nearly 1 million pounds of thrust. The RD-180 is the only liquid oxygen/kerosene fueled engine with an oxygen-rich staged-combustion cycle flying in the United States today.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, 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 engines for launch vehicles, missile defense systems and advanced hypersonic engines. Behind its successful designs, manufacturing processes, and hardware are Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne's research and development engineers, who solve tough problems in extreme environments. For more information, go to www.PrattWhitneyRocketdyne.com. Follow us at www.twitter.com/pwrocketdyne and www.facebook.com/pwrocketdyne.
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.