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Sun, Aug 08, 2004

Boeing Completes First Shuttle Main Engine

Engine is the first to be fully assembled at Kennedy Space Center

Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power, a business unit of The Boeing Company, recently completed the build-up and avionics testing of engine 2058, the first Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) fully assembled at Kennedy Space Center. This week, in the SSME Processing Facility, technicians hoisted the more than 7,500-pound engine from its vertical work stand into a horizontal position in preparation for shipment to NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to undergo a hot fire acceptance test.

Historically, SSMEs were built and assembled at Rocketdyne facilities in Canoga Park, Calif., with post-flight inspections performed at KSC.  Both functions were consolidated in February 2002. Engine 2058 is the first of five engines to be fully assembled on site, to reach the desired number of 15 SSMEs ready for launch at any given time in the Space Shuttle Program.

“Our team is certainly proud of the fact that this engine, the first to be fully assembled at KSC, will be part of our near-term Shuttle fleet and a major player in support of NASA’s Return to Flight efforts in 2005,” noted Mike Cosgrove, Rocketdyne flow manager. “It’s a major achievement for us and we’re pleased to continue to deliver a quality product to the customer.” 

Processing and assembly work began in February. The engine reached its first major milestone in April when the powerhead unit, a main component of the engine, was mated to the Main Combustion Chamber. The engine is scheduled for shipping later this month and will return to KSC following acceptance testing. Engine 2058 is currently slated for orbiter Atlantis on the STS-115 mission, currently set for no earlier than September 2005.
"The transfer of SSME assembly operations to KSC has enabled the reduction of infrastructure at Rocketdyne's Canoga Park facility, and enhancement of engine processing capability at KSC,” said Gene Goldman, SSME project manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. “The transfer provides a workload-leveling capability for the KSC engine workforce and consolidation of operations at Canoga Park. This arrangement has provided a 'win-win' for both locations.”

Each Space Shuttle employs three reusable main engines. Each is 14 feet long, with a  7.5-foot-diameter nozzle, generating almost 400,000 pounds of thrust. The Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power division of The Boeing Company manufactures the engines for NASA.



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