Encyclopedia Astronautica

Rocketdyne lox/lh2 rocket engine family. Space Shuttle Main Engines; only high-pressure closed-cycle reusable cryogenic rocket engine ever flown. Three mounted in the base of the American space shuttle. First flight 1981.

The SSME was naturally considered for the many shuttle derivatives and upgrades proposed during its forty-year development and service life. In the end, it appeared to be a technological bridge too far - the specified weight, reliability, durability, and reusability simply could not be met in a single engine using existing or foreseen technology and materials.

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