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Countdown! NASA Launch Vehicles and Facilities
PMS 018-B 
October 1991
Section 4

Main Engine Hydrogen Burnoff System

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Hydrogen vapors which occur during the main engine start sequence expel into the engine nozzles just before ignition. This action results in a hydrogen-rich atmosphere in the engine bells. To prevent damage to the engines, six hydrogen burnoff pre-igniters have been installed in the Tail Service Mast. Just before main engine ignition, the pre-igniters activate. They then ignite any free hydrogen in the area below the engine bells. This avoids rough combustion at main engine start.
  

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