Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Propulsion Powers Atlas V Upper Stage, Placing Radiation Belt Storm Probes into Orbit

Aug 30, 2012, 11:39 ET from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

CANOGA PARK, Calif., Aug. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and RD AMROSS successfully propelled the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission into orbit, once again demonstrating the consistency and reliability of their rocket launch propulsion systems.  The mission launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.  The Atlas V is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 booster engine, and the upper-stage is powered by the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10 engine.  RD AMROSS LLC is a joint venture of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and NPO Energomash.  Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company.

"Through the years, our customers have come to count on the RL10 to place their payloads into orbit," said Christine Cooley, RL10 program manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.  "That's why the RL10 has long been the engine of choice in this segment of the propulsion business. And that, in turn, is a testament to the dedication and skills of the team that builds it."

"The RD-180, manufactured by NPO Energomash, continues to offer excellent reliability in its booster propulsion, and we're honored to be part of a mission that will help scientists better understand the world in which we live," said Bill Parsons, president and CEO of RD AMROSS.

Built and managed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the RBSP includes two spacecraft designed to fly in elliptical orbits to study the planet's radiation belts and help scientists better understand the sun's influence on the Earth and near-Earth space.  The mission is part of NASA's Living with a Star Geospace program to explore fundamental processes that operate throughout the solar system, in particular those that generate hazardous space weather effects near the Earth and phenomena that could affect solar system exploration. 

The Atlas V Centaur upper-stage is powered by a single RL10A4-2 engine that delivers 22,300 pounds of thrust.  The Atlas V Common Core booster is powered by the RD-180 engine and delivers nearly 1 million pounds of thrust.  The RD-180 is fueled by a kerosene/liquid oxygen mixture, provides an environmentally-clean operation, and uses an extremely efficient, high-pressured staged combustion cycle.  The high-pressure helium storage tanks on the Atlas V booster and upper stage were manufactured by ARDE, Inc., located in Carlstadt, N.J., a division of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a part of Pratt & Whitney, is a preferred provider of high-value propulsion, power, energy and innovative system solutions used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including engines for launch vehicles, missile defense systems and advanced hypersonic engines.  Behind its successful designs, manufacturing processes, and hardware are Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne's research and development engineers, who solve tough problems in extreme environments. For more information, go to  Follow us at and

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and commercial building industries.

SOURCE Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne