Not knowing the steps involved, I am curious how long it took to remove or install an SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine) in real life.


1 Answer 1


In the Orbiter Processing Facility (orbiter horizontal) it took, at the end of the program, "less than 4 hours" to install all three engines1.

There's the Orbiter, Go Put a Motor in It

Good pictures here

enter image description here

On the pad, it took longer, 3 or 4 days, at least in 1999. "Shuttle engines have been changed on the launchpad several times in the past and generally it means a three- or four-day delay. "


1 Wording slightly ambiguous. Could mean a single engine but previous sentence refers to "a set".

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    $\begingroup$ " The center engine was installed on Tuesday, followed by the lower-right engine on Wednesday and the lower-left on Thursday." -> this implies that it took 4 hours per engine, otherwise I can't image why they'd spread it out over three days. Also, 80 minutes for one SSME seems optimistic: I doubt I connect a dishwasher in 80 minutes. $\endgroup$
    – Ludo
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed it's ambiguous hence my note. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2020 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ I was curious to compare to Raptor mount time, as we watch SpaceX mount, dismount, mount Raptors in the field at this time. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ @geoffc I had actually forgotten that they pulled the engines every flight for most of the shuttle program. So I guess they had plenty of practice. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2020 at 15:26

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