Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Tests Miniaturized Thrusters for Robot Lunar Landers



Using technology developed for the nation’s ballistic missile defense system, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne successfully completed hot-fire thruster tests demonstrating the ability of miniaturized thrusters to perform the descent and landing operation for a new generation of multi-use robotic lunar landers.  Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. company.

These tests were part of a series of risk reduction activities undertaken by the Robotic Lunar Lander Development Team at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, located in Huntsville, Ala.  During the tests conducted at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, N.M., Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s thruster was put through a 16-minute firing sequence to simulate a lunar landing, including continuous burns up to 10 times longer than typically required for missile defense systems.  The thruster allows NASA to take advantage of existing technology minimizing additional development cost, risk or delay.

“We’re very pleased to demonstrate that our robust heritage hardware satisfies NASA’s requirements for long-duration missions,” said Cy Bruno, program manager, NASA Propulsion and Strategic Systems, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.  “We look forward to the potential of future opportunities to work with NASA to provide more efficient and cost-effective propulsion systems as we continue to advance space exploration.”

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., 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 the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, missile defense systems and advanced hypersonic engines.

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.