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Melissa Mathews
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1272)

June Malone
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256/544-0034)

Jessica Rye
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
(Phone: 321/867-2468)
12.10.04
 
RELEASE : 97-04
 
 
Space Shuttle Milestone: NASA Installs Main Engines on Discovery
 
 

The three Main Engines that will help launch Space Shuttle Discovery on its Return to Flight mission were installed in the Shuttle this week at the Orbiter Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Installation of the engines, clustered at the aft, or tail, of the orbiter to provide power to launch the Shuttle into low-Earth orbit, was completed Dec. 8.

"This milestone concludes the assembly, processing, inspection, data review and tests required for acceptance of engines," said Gene Goldman, Space Shuttle Main Engine project manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The Return to Flight mission, designated as STS-114, is currently targeted for May or June 2005. The seven-member Discovery crew will fly to the International Space Station primarily to test and evaluate new procedures for flight safety, including Space Shuttle inspection and repair techniques.

Returning the Space Shuttle to flight is the first step in realizing the Vision for Space Exploration, which calls for a "stepping-stone" strategy of human and robotic missions to achieve the nation's new exploration goals, starting with returning the Shuttle safely to flight and completing the International Space Station.

Installed on Discovery were engines number 2057, 2056 and 2054. STS-114 will be the first flight for engine 2057, the third for engine 2056 and the fifth for engine 2054.

"Although there is still much work to be done, the engines are the last big components to install on the orbiter prior to rolling over to the Vehicle Assembly Building," said Stephanie Stilson, NASA's Discovery vehicle manager. "This shows we're moving in the right direction for Return to Flight."

"This milestone concludes the assembly, processing, inspection, data review and tests required for acceptance of engines," said Gene Goldman, Space Shuttle Main Engine project manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Weighing slightly more than 7,000 pounds, the Main Engine is the world's largest reusable liquid rocket engine. After the Space Shuttle orbiter returns to Earth following a mission, the engines are taken to the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center for post-flight inspections and maintenance. They are then sent to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., for a pre-flight acceptance test.

During lift-off, each of the three engines consumes 132,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 49,000 gallons of liquid oxygen fuel. That's a total of more than half a million gallons of fuel during an 8-minute, 30-second launch. In fact, if the three engines pumped water instead of fuel, they could drain an average-sized home swimming pool in 25 seconds.

At full power, the three engines combined generate as much energy as 23 Hoover Dams and operate at temperatures that range from minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit to 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the boiling point of iron.

The Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power division of The Boeing Co. of Canoga Park, Calif., manufactures the Main Engines. Pratt and Whitney, a United Technologies Company of West Palm Beach, Fla., builds the high-pressure turbo pumps. Marshall manages the Space Shuttle Main Engine Project for the Space Shuttle Propulsion Program.

NASA Television will feed b-roll and soundbites related to the engine installation beginning today at 3 p.m. ET. NASA TV is available on AMC-6, Transponder 9, at 3880 MHz, vertical polarization, with audio at 6.8 MHz. In Alaska and Hawaii, NASA TV is on AMC-7, Transponder 17 at 4040 MHz, vertical polarization with audio at 6.8 MHz.

For more information on NASA TV, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html

Photos of engine installation can be found at the following URL:

http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/search.cfm?cat=42

For more information on Return to Flight on the Internet, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight

 

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