Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne has successfully completed a series of tests on a thruster destined for Boeing’s CST-100 Commercial Space Transportation spacecraft.
Boeing, whose defense division is based in St. Louis, is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation. The goal of the program is to help spur innovation and development of safe, reliable and cost-effective spacecraft and launch vehicles capable of transporting astronauts to low Earth orbit and to the International Space Station.
During tests conducted at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, NM, an OMAC thruster was fired in a vacuum chamber that simulated a space-like environment of 100,000 feet. The tests verified the durability of the thrusters in extreme heat, evaluated the opening and closing of their valves and confirmed continuous combustion and performance.
Twenty-four thrusters will be part of the spacecraft’s orbital maneuvering and attitude control system (OMAC), giving the CST-100 the ability to maneuver in space and during re-entry. The thrusters also will allow the spacecraft to separate from its launch vehicle if an abort becomes necessary.
According to literature from Boeing, the CST-100 is anticipated to be operational in 2015.
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