Flight, We Are Go for Throttle up…

April 29, 2016 | Author: Brian Berry

Pushing the Throttle that Propels Humankind To Deep Space

During every launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle, an important radio call transmitted from Mission Control Houston - “go for throttle up”, noting that it was safe for the Space Shuttle Main Engines to be throttled back up to full power. The throttling of these engines was a critical feature that kept the maximum dynamic pressure on the vehicle within acceptable limits. While the Space Shuttle has been retired since 2011, the engines that powered it will continue to fly on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS).

Launching in 2018, NASA’s SLS will propel larger payloads further into our solar system than ever before with a goal of providing a sustainable launch system capable of supporting future space missions that include human trips to Mars, along with unmanned deep space probes to distant reaches like the Jupiter moon Europa.

Honeywell Aerospace was recently selected by Aerojet Rocketdyne to provide the hydraulic actuators for new production RS-25 Engines on NASA’s next-generation SLS rocket. The engine actuators to be provided by Honeywell are key components of the RS-25 engine. The actuators control the flow of the fuel and oxidizer during the powered ascent phase of the SLS. These engine actuators maintain the throttle in the engine’s combustion chamber, providing the precise mixture of fuel and oxidizer needed for each engine to produce 512,000 pounds of vacuum thrust.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s selection of Honeywell for the hydraulic actuators complements Honeywell’s role as the RS-25 engine control unit (ECU) supplier. Based on the Space Shuttle Main Engine Controller (SSMEC), the ECU is the brains that monitors performance and controls the engine. 

A precise touch is needed to achieve the right balance and mission success, but more than just accuracy has made Honeywell’s engine actuators the right fit for NASA’s SLS and future deep space missions.

Smarter Manufacturing for a Sustainable Space Launch System

A unique challenge that accompanies the SLS is its use of expendable engines. The RS-25 engine was previously used to propel the NASA space shuttle to orbit, which returned to a runway landing on earth. Like the Shuttle, the engines were refurbished for future missions. As NASA returns to use expendable launch vehicles such as SLS, new approaches need to be taken to improve cost efficiencies in order to ensure NASA’s deep space missions are affordable.

With 100 years of Aerospace experience, a strong manufacturing infrastructure, and most importantly a talented workforce, Honeywell has responded to the new challenge of an expendable model by using state-of-the-art design and manufacturing techniques to reduce recurring costs for its engine actuators. Through early engagement of our customer, our design team and our supply chain, Honeywell can ensure that quality and reliability remain a staple of their engine actuators at a cost that propels NASA a step closer to Mars and further into the galaxy.

A Space Legacy Built on Relationships and Reliability

Space exploration relies on a network of dedicated and reliable businesses and organizations working together to achieve mission success.

Over the past 45 years, Honeywell has used its engineering expertise and aerospace relationships to develop products and services that have endured the unique challenges of space. The company has products on 100 percent of all human space flights and key relationships with NASA, the U.S. Air Force, United Launch Alliance, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne and more.

A good example of Honeywell’s reliability and relationships in action are the company’s reaction wheel assemblies (RWA), which provide precision control, pointing and navigation to help keep satellites in their pre-determined orbit. These RWAs have seen more than 110 million hours of flawless flight time in space and have never failed or caused a satellite to lose orbit in more than 45 years of their use. In certain instances, Honeywell’s RWAs have gone above and beyond for customers by extending a 10-year operation life into 30 years of service.

Coming Together to ‘Throttle Up’

From Glendale and Tempe to Clearwater and Torrance, all across the country Honeywell is hard at work developing and testing the systems that will be key to the next big mission into deep space. Honeywell’s space legacy extends from the manned Apollo missions to the navigation of New Horizon past Pluto. Now the Honeywell RS-25 engine actuators are prepared to “throttle up” and take humankind to places further and faster than ever before. 

Brian Berry

Brian Berry

Sr. Director of Motion Control Solutions for Mechanical Components and Systems

Brian Berry joined Honeywell Aerospace in 1986 and has worked in various Engineering and Supply Chain Management roles. Berry currently serves as the leader of Honeywell’s Aerospace actuation business, managing a business team that is responsible for motion control solutions for aircraft, aircraft engines, spacecraft, missiles and marine vessels.

Contact Information