Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Conducts Successful Hot-Fire of Launch Abort Engine


Video of a previous Bantam test-fire courtesy of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

The title of a recent video produced by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, was “Smoke and Fire – Not Smoke and Mirrors. The company backed up that claim yet again in California on March 9 by conducting a successful hot-fire test of its launch abort engine (also known as a launch abort system or LAS). The mission-duration test was done in support of Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft, which is participating in NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2).

“We achieved full thrust on the 40,000-pound thrust-class engine while validating key operating conditions during engine start-up and shut down,” said Terry Lorier, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne’s Commercial Crew Development program manager, which supports Boeing’s program.

Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation or CST system is a reusable, capsule-shaped spacecraft. It has been dubbed a “space taxi” and has been designed to either ferry crew (up to seven astronauts) or a combination of cargo and crew to low-Earth-orbit or LEO.

The spacecraft’s destination would be the International Space Station. The service module and integrated launch abort propulsion system of the CST-100 are designed to propel the crew capsule away from danger in the case of an emergency during launch. In similar designs, the LAS is ejected shortly after the crew achieves orbit. In the case of the CST-100, this system can be used on-orbit for other tasks, such as elevating the orbit of the International Space Station.


Video courtesy of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

“The tests provided key thermal and analytical data,” Lorier said. “We are well on our way to providing an important propulsion system for safe, reliable human spaceflight.”

Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne has a fixed-price contract with Boeing to combine both its Bantam abort engine as well as the company’s Attitude Control Propulsion System thrusters to produce the LAS system for the CST-100.

“Boeing and its contractor, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, continue to make good progress on milestones supporting the development of their commercial crew transportation capabilities,” said Ed Mango, Commercial Crew Program manager. “The eventual availability of these capabilities from a U.S. domestic provider will enhance U.S. competitiveness and open new markets for the U.S. aerospace industry.”

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