The proposed NASA budget released Feb. 13 includes $1.3 billion for the agency’s newest space vehicle, a program that Canoga Park-based Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will make the engines for.
The budget puts aside more than $830 million for development of space vehicles in conjunction with private companies to provide access to the International Space Station. That’s an increase of 104 percent as the agency’s 2012 budget for commercial space transportation was $406 million.
Putting more money toward commercial transportation is the right decision as long as it doesn’t cut into other space programs, said Jim Maser, president of Pratt &Whitney.
“The funding increase in commercial space transportation development shouldn't come at the expense of other top American priorities, including dedicated, full funding of the Space Launch System launch vehicle development that can't be siphoned off for other, lower priority programs or uses,” Maser said in a prepared statement.
Pratt & Whitney is supplying two engines for the Space Launch System, which is the first exploration-class vehicle from NASA since the Saturn V rocket. The rocket will carry the manned Orion capsule, cargo, equipment and science experiments.
The main engine for the rocket is based on the design of the main engine of the Space Shuttle. For the upper stage engine, Pratt & Whitney updated the J-2X engine used on the Saturn V.
The first mission, which will use the main engine but not the upper stage engine, is scheduled for 2017.
Pratt & Whitney is also contributing to the commercial transportation program. It is supplying launch abort system and the orbital maneuvering and attitude thrusters for the Crew Space Transporation-100 craft being built by Boeing.
The CST-100 will travel into low-Earth orbit to the International Space Station and other future destinations.
Mark R. Madler