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Development and design company won massive contract to develop and design new rocket engines

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Inc. today announced it has won a $1.2 billion NASA contract for the design development of rocket engines for the next generation of spacecrafts. NASA awarded the funds Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne to develop and test a J-2X engine that will power the upper stages of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles.
"We are very proud to have been selected by NASA to power the return of U.S. astronauts to the moon and beyond,” said Stephen Finger, president, Pratt & Whitney. “This contract award is another important milestone in the partnership between Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and NASA, which spans more than half a century.”

The two vehicles are part of the Orion program to send astronauts and cargo back to the moon before the year 2020.  The program builds upon the legacy of the Apollo-Saturn Program.  Liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen powers the J-2X, which provides 294,000 pounds of thrust to power the Ares vehicles.

“The J-2X builds on our knowledge and experience with the proven J-2 and J-2S engines, while simultaneously integrating state-of-the-art technology in order to give NASA a powerful, cost-effective, reliable engine,” said Jim Maser, president, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

The newly formed contract includes ground and flight-testing and extends through December 31, 2012.

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What's the Challenge?
By firewolfsm on 7/19/2007 12:48:44 AM , Rating: 2
Why does it seem so hard to get to the moon when we already did it (supposedly)? They should be able to send any old rocket up there and be on the moon in a year or two. Surely they already have the technology to do it?

RE: What's the Challenge?
By imaheadcase on 7/19/2007 1:16:23 AM , Rating: 2
Because of government squabbling about space program in general.

Fact is most space based projects have nothing to do with science anymore and all about putting satellites up and researching weapons.

But thats the nature of the beast, most revolutionary space/science inventions we use was first used to kill someone faster/cheaper in some way or the other (Plastic anyone?).

Governments are not really sure "what" space is for, they throw billions/trillions of dollars into satellites/useless space stations, when a VERY small % of that is actual space exploration.

How do they expect to go to other planets someday when they are still thinking about Earth in development of space based objects?

RE: What's the Challenge?
By probedb on 7/19/2007 5:31:42 AM , Rating: 1
Too true. Everyone complains about overpopulation etc...maybe they should think about exploring places for us to settle?

RE: What's the Challenge?
By noxipoo on 7/19/2007 11:18:00 AM , Rating: 1
plastics was for war? wikipedia failed me, what's the history on that?

RE: What's the Challenge?
By Boottothehead on 7/19/2007 3:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
The major launching platform for evryday plastics was WWII. Companies were looking for ways to save raw materials to fuel the war effort and plastics provided a handy answer. This was the real advent of plastic utensils, cups, bowls, car parts etc... Anywhere metal or wood or glass could be replaced by plastics, it pretty much was. Prior to that people viewed plastic products as a novelty.

RE: What's the Challenge?
By CheesePoofs on 7/19/2007 1:37:14 AM , Rating: 2
It's all in the money. NASA had a lot more money to go to the moon during the 70s. Now they have to do it while finishing construction of the ISS and supporting the aging shuttles.

RE: What's the Challenge?
By AntiM on 7/19/2007 9:08:27 AM , Rating: 2
I think the biggest challenge is finding a good reason. If it's for the betterment of science, that money could be much better spent on our education system. Hopefully, it will result in a manned mission to Mars someday.

"... silly humans, hurling your bodies into the void without the slightest inkling of what's out here"
Ming from the movie "Flash"

RE: What's the Challenge?
By maven81 on 7/19/2007 10:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
That infrustructure was dismantled. The technology abandoned. The people who worked on those missions are retired, or worse yet deceased. The record keeping at the time seems to have been pretty poor as well (I believe they are still trying to hunt for magnetic tapes with the high resolution footage from the moon, which was never broadcast in that quality).
So the people starting this program have a whole lot of research ahead of them.
No rockets powerful enough to accomplish this currently exist since there's no need to send such heavy cargo into space at the moment. The most recent one that was potentially capable of such a thing, the Russian Energia, was pretty much mothballed with the death of the buran program in the late 80s.
Also as has been said, the NASA budget is nowhere near what it needs to be for this to happen. They have to kill actual scientific programs to redirect money towards this... which in the end is nothing more then a matter of prestige anyway, since if the US doesn't do it, the Chinese seem to be going for it.

RE: What's the Challenge?
By RamboZZo on 7/19/2007 11:32:50 AM , Rating: 2
Quite a shame the Energia project was pretty much completely lost and destroyed. It was very promissing and would have helped out a lot with the ISS since there would have been less need for the shuttles.

RE: What's the Challenge?
By Moishe on 7/19/2007 12:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
This is one of the main problems I have with dropping any kind of space exploration for even as little as 10-20 years. The best way to experience is continual use. We can't have a long period of time where we don't go to space because in the end we will lose momentum and knowledge and the skills will get rusty. I'd rather see continual small steps than large steps separated by decades.

This is not the most critical thing on earth, but it certainly is important to risk time, effort, and money. A complacent and entirely "safe" society will shortly find itself useless and out of date.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 7/23/2007 12:27:10 PM , Rating: 2
More importantly, the first moon program was just to get someone there and bring them back after a stay of a few days at most. This effort is for a permanent or semi-permanent settlement. We have never done that before so don't have the technology for such a land (moon/mars surface) based structure.
I wish this were an international effort (without Russia - sorry - they were very slow on the ISS). I would like to see what China, Japan and EU can do with this, too.

RE: What's the Challenge?
By omnicronx on 7/19/2007 12:52:28 PM , Rating: 2
Well i think the main thing is, this time around they will not be sent out in a tin can, and they will not land in an tin-foil box. The astronauts also received almost as much radiation as a normal yearly dose of radiation that we receive on earth from the sun, and other things that give off radiation.

Also during the space race, many things were downplayed to get to the moon first, and it was very known that it could have easily failed. When man landed on the moon in 1969 they actually had two broadcasts ready, one for if they made it, one if they failed, i dont think its going to work like that this time around ;)

RE: What's the Challenge?
By maven81 on 7/19/2007 3:21:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'd say that if anything the space shuttle proved that space travel today is not inherently safer then it was back then. Which is not surprising considering that a lot of the hardware used today was developed in the 70s. And where do you think Nasa will get the money and the support to build state of the art, top of the line equipment? They are trying to do this on the cheap, and with very limited resources... that makes me feel less safe about it.

RE: What's the Challenge?
By Ringold on 7/19/2007 9:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
While I disagree with omni in that I still see it as just a slightly larger tin can than the Apollo missions tin cans, I wouldn't say that this isn't more safe. At this point the technology we're using is a long way from bleeding edge; I've yet to hear a single impressive gee-whiz bit of technology being developed from scratch come out of this program. Apollo, in contrast, was a balls-out mad dash for the Moon, money and all else be damned lest the Moon turn red.

It could've been bleeding-edge. We could be building a substantial spacecraft to send a large team to the Moon or to Mars with significantly different propulsion systems, we could even be building a ship so large it'd be easier to construct in orbit rather then launch in a couple pieces. That would cost much more money, though. Instead we're taking a pod, slinging it at the Moon, and leting it plop down in the atmosphere behind a thermal shield of some kind just the way a billion other tin cans have done before. While I'm wholly unimpressed I've got no doubt that it'll be the safest spacecraft ever.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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