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Final set of shuttle main engines installed
Posted: December 10, 2010

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Space shuttle ground technicians at the Kennedy Space Center have achieved yet another "final" milestone on the road to the program's looming retirement: installing the last set of main engines.

Inside Orbiter Processing Facility bay 1 this week, the powerplants were attached one-by-one on shuttle Atlantis. The center engine was installed on Tuesday, followed by the lower-right engine on Wednesday and the lower-left on Thursday.

Each Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne engine is 14 feet long, weighs about 6,700 pounds and is 7.5 feet in diameter at the end of the nozzle. They burn supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to propel the shuttle during the eight-and-a-half minute climb to orbit.

The engines are removed from the space shuttle orbiters after every mission for post-flight servicing and refurbishment.

Atlantis is being prepared as a "launch on need" rescue vehicle and the potential extra mission that could be added to the shuttle program for flight next summer.

Credit: NASA photos

Photo credit: NASA