RS-25 Engines: Extreme Operating Conditions

August 13th, 2015

Four RS-25 engines developed and manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne will power the Space Launch System (SLS) when it makes its first flight in 2018. Today, at NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, one RS-25 engine is being tested to ensure it can meet the operational demands of SLS.

The RS-25, previously known as the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME), is this country’s premier staged combustion rocket engine – the only engine of its type that the United States has designed, produced and flown. It’s like a hybrid in the world of automobiles – more efficient, but just as powerful.

What makes this engine so special is the extreme amount of energy packaged in the size of a mid-size car, which is why it is the perfect engine for SLS. Imagine if your car had to work under the same conditions of the RS-25 engine:

  • –Under the hood, components are operating between negative 423 degrees Fahrenheit and 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit
  • –The fuel is liquid hydrogen
  • –The exhaust would leave at 13 times the speed of sound
  • –The wheels would rotate at 1,860 miles per hour




Watch NASA TV coverage of today’s RS-25 test today at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

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