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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 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.

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