Ray Castillo Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-4555


March 21, 1995

June Malone Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL (Phone: 205/544-7061) RELEASE: 95-32 NEW SPACE SHUTTLE MAIN ENGINE READY FOR FLIGHT NASA has successfully completed testing a new high pressure liquid oxidizer turbopump and is ready to fly an upgraded main engine on its first Space Shuttle flight in June 1995. "Completing flight certification of the Alternate High Pressure Oxidizer Turbopump is a major milestone in the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) program," said Otto Goetz, SSME deputy project manager for development, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL. "The Alternate Turbopump is now ready for its first flight and for nine flights thereafter. Credit goes to Pratt and Whitney and Rocketdyne, to the experts in Marshall's Science and Engineering Directorate, and to the folks at Stennis Space Center who supported an aggressive test program," Goetz added. NASA completed final certification of the new liquid oxygen high pressure turbopump on March 15. The new pumps underwent a test program that is equivalent to 40 Space Shuttle flights. By achieving this milestone, NASA reached the final step in certifying the turbopumps for flight. "The certification is unprecedented in that none of the

certification units had to be removed from the engine during the test series," said Goetz. NASA did not perform any detailed inspections other than verifying free pump rotation after each test. The high pressure liquid oxygen pumps used in the current SSME must be removed after each flight for inspection. The new pumps will not need any detailed inspection until they have flown ten times. The new pumps also are expected to increase safety margins and reliability for the SSMEs. These engines provide approximately 1.5 million pounds of thrust during launch of the Shuttle into low-Earth orbit. -more-2The new turbopump also incorporates state of the art technology in its design. The pump housing is produced through a casting process, thereby eliminating all but six of the 300 welds that exist in the current pump. Eliminating welds is one of the keys to increasing safety margins on the main engine. The new pump uses a new ball bearing material -silicon nitride (a type of ceramic). Silicon nitride offers several advantages over the steel bearings currently in use. The material is 30 percent harder than steel and has an ultra-smooth finish which allows for less friction during pump operation. Friction creates heat that leads to wear on the bearings. These new ceramic bearings eliminate concerns over excessive wear to the pump-end ball bearing. Along with the new turbopump, NASA will fly a new twoduct powerhead. This new powerhead will significantly improve fluid flows within the engine system by decreasing pressure, reducing maintenance and enhancing overall performance of the engine. It will replace three smaller fuel ducts in the current design with two enlarged ducts to achieve improved engine performance. This new engine configuration is being called the Block I engine. On STS-70, one SSME will be a new Block I engine. The

remaining two engines will have the current SSME design. The first flight planned to incorporate the new pumps into all three engines is STS-73, currently targeted for launch in September 1995. The SSME project is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Pratt and Whitney, West Palm Beach, FL, developed and manufactured the new pump; Rocketdyne, Canoga Park, CA,will integrate the pump into the main engine. -endNASA press releases and other information are available automatically by sending an Internet electronic mail message to domo@hq.nasa.gov. In the body of the message (not the subject line) users should type the words "subscribe pressrelease" (no quotes). The system will reply with a confirmation via E-mail of each subscription. A second automatic message will include additional information on the service. Questions should be directed to (202) 358-4043.