Rocket Design
Inside the Combustion Chamber
The Space Shuttle Main Engine
 THE SPACE SHUTTLE MAIN ENGINE: General Information - Major Components

During the brief time the three main engines operate during liftoff and ascent, they burn more than 500,000 gallons of super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants stored in the huge external tank. Originally developed in the 1970s, the Space Shuttle's main engines remain the world's most sophisticated reusable rocket engine.

NASA continues to increase reliability and safety through a program of on-going engine enhancements. Major modifications were also performed in 1988, again in 1995, and the latest in 2000. To understand the operation of this high-performance rocket engine, an understanding of its basic propellant flow is first in order.

SSME Major Components
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