WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne today powered the launch of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter/Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LRO/LCROSS) mission in its planned return to the moon from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The two spacecraft were aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket powered by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s RL10 upper-stage engine and the RD AMROSS, LLC RD-180 booster engine. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX). RD AMROSS is a joint venture company of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and NPO Energomash.
“Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne played a key role in placing the first human on the moon in 1969, and now has powered the first mission to support NASA’s plan to return humans to the moon,” said Jim Maus, director, expendable propulsion programs, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. “We are proud of our continuing role in the exploration and understanding of the moon.”
“RD AMROSS is pleased that the RD-180 booster engine contributed to the successful launch of NASA’s LRO/LCROSS mission, which marks a further step forward in our collective quest for knowledge about the moon,” said Len Dest, president and CEO, RD AMROSS.
LRO/LCROSS is the first mission in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration, a plan to return to the moon and then travel to Mars and beyond. Objectives of the mission are to find safe landing sites on the moon, locate potential resources, characterize the radiation environment and test new technology.
The Atlas V Centaur upper stage is powered by one RL10A-4-2 engine that delivers 22,300 pounds of thrust. The RL10 and the Centaur will be guided toward a lunar orbit and crashed into the moon’s surface to create a large dust cloud that will be analyzed for the presence of water ice by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter as it travels through the plume.
The RD-180 delivers nearly 1 million pounds of thrust and continues to be flight proven with 100 percent mission success for 22 consecutive launches. The RD-180 is the only liquid oxygen-kerosene fueled engine with an oxygen-rich staged combustion cycle flying in the United States today.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., a part of Pratt & Whitney, is a preferred provider of high-value propulsion, power, energy and innovative system solutions used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, missile defense systems and advanced hypersonic engines.
Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and commercial building industries.