An engine which is fueled by a mix of liquid oxygen and hydrogen has been developed to demonstrate advanced rocket technologies for future space vehicles and has achieved a technical milestone in throttling capability.
Designed to reveal successful throttling from full power to 10 percent of its thrust, the Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE) was built off the design of the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10 engine which has a proven history of performance.
CECE is fueled by a mixture of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen and generates up to 13,800 pounds of thrust, providing major advantages for landing astronauts on the moon. The flexibility to control the flow of fuel through an engine is necessary for a lunar landing, allowing the spacecraft ample propulsion, yet enough control to land gently on the moon's surface.
NASA's Deep Throttling Engine Project manager, Tony Kim commented, $quot;This technology has the potential to be the backbone of a deep-throttling, reliable, reusable engine for use across most human and robotic missions. Through two rounds of testing, the CECE team has accomplished quite a bit, but we still have a long way to go before this technology will be ready for full scale development.$quot;
NASA has invested in CECE technology since 2005 and this collaboration includes engineers from Marshall Space Flight Centre and Glenn Research Centre, together with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The CECE effort is part of the Propulsion and Cryogenics Advanced Development project at Glenn, which is developing cryogenic propulsion and propellant management systems for the Lunar Lander.