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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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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.


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