CANOGA PARK, Calif. - Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne engines provided the power to successfully place the fifth in a series of Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-5) communication satellites into orbit May 24 for the U.S. military.
The mission was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV medium rocket with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68 and RL10B-2 engines providing the booster and upper-stage propulsion, respectively.
This was the first flight of the Delta IV rocket after a successful launch in October 2012 in which an anomaly occurred with the upper stage engine system. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. company.
“The RL10B-2 performed flawlessly, providing the upper stage power to loft this key spacecraft into orbit,” said Christine Cooley, RL10 program manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. “I am especially proud of the RL10 team’s very professional and tireless support to thoroughly investigate and address the anomaly experienced on the last Delta IV launch. Following a rigorous investigative process and working seamlessly with a team of highly skilled employees from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, United Launch Alliance (ULA), Air Force, NASA and other aerospace companies, flight clearance was obtained. This team should take great pride in knowing their contributions will allow us to continue to build on the RL10 legacy – an engine that has helped shape this nation’s space program since its beginning 50 years ago.”
The RL10B-2 is a unique cryogenic upper-stage engine featuring the world’s largest carbon – carbon extendable nozzle that provides 465 seconds of specific impulse and 24,750 pounds of thrust. The rocket was boosted off the pad by the powerful RS-68 engine designed for heavy lift, with 758,000 pounds of vacuum thrust and 663,000 pounds of sea-level thrust.
“With 663,000 pounds of thrust at sea level, the RS-68 engine is a real workhorse in the industry, and today was no different as it proved itself once again,” said Dan Adamski, RS-68 program manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. “The RS-68 and RL10 provide a winning combination of reliability. We look forward to powering future missions in support of our brave servicemen and women.”
The WGS satellites are part of a larger system that increases military communications capabilities for U.S. and allied forces deployed worldwide. They help support the exchange of information, execution of tactical command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.