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Editorial Information

Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812

Phone: 256-544-0030
Marshall website

The Marshall Star is published online every Wednesday by the Public and Employee Communications Office at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Submissions should be written legibly and include the originator's name.

Send email submissions to: Marshall.Star@msfc.nasa.gov.

Manager of Public and Employee
Communications:
Dom Amatore

Editor: Amie Cotton

Fact Sheet

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Amazing facts: Space Shuttle Main Engine
08.03.11
 
  • Developed in the 1970s by the Marshall Space Flight Center, the space shuttle main engine was the world's most sophisticated reusable rocket engine.

  • The space shuttle's three main engines operated for 8 minutes and 40 seconds for each shuttle flight, with a combined output of 37 million horsepower. At their full power, that was equivalent to the output of 13 Hoover Dams.

  • Space shuttle main engines operated at greater temperature extremes than any mechanical system in common use.

  • The combined pumping capacity of all three space shuttle main engine turbopumps could drain an average-sized swimming pool in 28 seconds.

  • The combustion chamber reached +6,000 degrees F. -- hotter than the boiling point of iron.

  • After the solid rockets were jettisoned, the main engines provided thrust which accelerated the shuttle from 3,000 mph to more than 17,000 mph in just six minutes to reach orbit. They created a combined maximum thrust of more than 1.2 million pounds.

  • As the shuttle accelerated, the main engines burned a half-million gallons of liquid propellant provided by the external fuel tank.

  • Each main engine was 14 feet long, weighed approximately 7,000 pounds and was 7.5 feet in diameter at the end of its nozzle.

  • The reliability and safety of the space shuttle main engine continued over the years through a series of enhancements. The engine was modified in 1988, 1995, 1998 and 2001.