Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s RS-27A rocket engine powered five NASA scientific satellites into orbit today. The purpose of the mission is to unlock the mysteries of Earth’s geomagnetic substorms. The engine propelled the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from the pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:01 p.m. Eastern time. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. company.

This was the 213th consecutive successful launch for the RS-27 family of engines, maintaining a 100-percent success record dating back to the 1970s. “Reliability is the strong suit of the RS-27A,” said Elizabeth Jones, PWR RS-27A Program Manager. “The mission powered by the RS-27A today will enable us to learn more about what triggers these potentially dangerous substorms.” Firing for slightly over four minutes with 200,000 pounds of thrust as the first stage of the Delta II, the RS-27A positions the rocket for a second stage burn and the successful deployment of the five THEMIS probes.

The THEMIS payload of five probes is one of the largest number of scientific satellites launched into orbit aboard a single rocket. THEMIS stands for Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions During Substorms. The satellites will gather data on the Northern and Southern Lights to help understand how to mitigate the impact of these energy releases on other satellites, power grids and communications systems.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., a part of Pratt & Whitney, offers a complete line of propulsion products from launch vehicles to missile defense to advanced hypersonic propulsion. These have been used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, and high altitude defense systems.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building industries.