Encyclopedia Astronautica
Plug-Nozzle SSME

Notional lox/lh2 rocket engine. 3728.7 kN. Study 1978. Isp=485s. Used on VTOVL launch vehicle.

Thrust (sl): 3,167.400 kN (712,060 lbf). Thrust (sl): 322,992 kgf. Engine: 2,973 kg (6,554 lb). Area Ratio: 600. Thrust to Weight Ratio: 127.89.

Status: Study 1978.
Unfuelled mass: 2,973 kg (6,554 lb).
Thrust: 3,728.70 kN (838,245 lbf).
Specific impulse: 485 s.
Specific impulse sea level: 412 s.
Burn time: 500 s.

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Associated Countries
See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • VTOVL American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Lox/LH2 Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. Liquid hydrogen was identified by all the leading rocket visionaries as the theoretically ideal rocket fuel. It had big drawbacks, however - it was highly cryogenic, and it had a very low density, making for large tanks. The United States mastered hydrogen technology for the highly classified Lockheed CL-400 Suntan reconnaissance aircraft in the mid-1950's. The technology was transferred to the Centaur rocket stage program, and by the mid-1960's the United States was flying the Centaur and Saturn upper stages using the fuel. It was adopted for the core of the space shuttle, and Centaur stages still fly today. More...

Associated Stages
  • VTOVL 150t Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 4,093,761/419,154 kg. Thrust 63,387.80 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 485 seconds. More...

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