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Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Engines Use New Performance Monitors On Shuttle Launch


CANOGA PARK, Calif., Friday.- A trio of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME), fitted with new controllers to actively monitor engine health and performance, powered the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center today. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. [NYSE:UTX] company and has provided the SSME since the first shuttle mission in 1981.

All three SSMEs carried the new Advanced Health Management System (AHMS) controllers which monitor engine vibration and a historical set of key performance parameters. For this mission, two of the controllers were in a passive mode, but the controller on engine 2057 was active, meaning that it could have prompted actions in the engine systems if unacceptable vibration levels were detected during the eight and one-half minute firing of the engines during launch. The AHMS controller is another engine enhancement that will improve flight safety by offering near-instant and automatic response to potential problems in the event they occur.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s SSME is the world’s only re-usable rocket engine. Today’s successful launch added to a fleet total of 354 engine flights and more than 181,437 seconds of flight operation. Upon return of Space Shuttle Atlantis, the PWR Space Shuttle Main Engines will be removed from the orbiter and prepared for future missions.


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