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Tue, Apr 07, 2009

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Successfully Tests Orion Propulsion Technology

Methane/Oxygen Motors Will Send Humans To Moon, Mars and Beyond

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne completed a series of successful hot-fire tests for a propulsion system that could lead to increased mission capability and flexibility in sending humans to the moon, Mars and beyond.

During the tests at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH a 25 pound-force thruster testbed successfully demonstrated cooling with gaseous methane and gaseous oxygen, as well as rapid start and stop at simulated altitude conditions. The tests also gathered a wide range of data on ignition and combustion performance. A test program highlight was the igniter demonstration of split-second pulses that emulate how a spacecraft may perform during a mission.

"These successful tests mark another milestone for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne's contribution to the US Space Exploration Policy," said Terry Lorier, program manager, Space Propulsion Systems Development, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. "It demonstrates our team is ready to proceed with development of this technology, and provides data in support of NASA's upcoming decision on whether to baseline oxygen and methane as propellants for use on future NASA vehicles and missions."

The hot-fire testing was conducted as part of the Propulsion and Cryogenics Advanced Development (PCAD) project under NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP). The goal is to develop and demonstrate key technologies that will enable NASA to conduct future human exploration missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond. Testing was conducted at NASA Glenn Research Center under contract management from NASA Johnson Space Center.



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