A Kennedy Space Center team this morning packed up a space shuttle main engine to be trucked to Stennis Space Center in Mississippi next week, as NASA transfers the engines from the shuttle program to the agency's new heavy-lift rocket.
The engine will be the third shipped from KSC, the second that has flown in space. Twelve more will follow, with the last expected to leave Florida around April.
NASA has 15 space shuttle main engines, of which 14 are certified for flight. Click here for more background and "amazing facts" about the SSMEs.
Early versions of NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System will use engines to power a first stage burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, assisted by shuttle-like solid rocket boosters.
The system is supposed to evolve from a capability to lift 70 tons to 130 tons, growing from a height of 320 feet to 389 feet (see this fact sheet). It will fly the Orion crew capsule, which will be assembled at KSC.
IMAGE: In the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, technicians guide a transportation canister as it encloses a Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne space shuttle main engine. Fifteen engines used during the shuttle program will be transferred to Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The engines will be stored at Stennis for future use on NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. Credit: NASA/Gianni Woods