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If all three SSME's do not reach a mandatory thrust of 90% over the course of the next three seconds, a Main Engine Cutoff command is initiated automatically, followed by the cutoff of all three SSME's and a number of safety functions.
If all three SSME's are performing normally, the Space Shuttle can be launched. The SSME's achieve full power at launch, but are throttled back at about Launch Plus 26 seconds in order to protect the Space Shuttle from aerodynamic stress and excessive heating.
The SSME's are throttled back up to full power at about Launch Plus 60 seconds, and typically continue to produce full power until shortly before the Space Shuttle reaches orbit. During ascent, each SSME may be gimbaled plus or minus 10.5 degrees pitch and yaw to help steer the Space Shuttle.
The SSME's typically burn for about 8.5 minutes after launch. At about Launch Plus 7 minutes, 40 seconds the SSME's are throttled down so that the Space Shuttle will not experience gravitational force in excess of three g's. Gravitational forces in excess of three g's might adversely affect the Space Shuttle and its crew.
At about ten seconds before Main Engine Cutoff (MECO), a MECO sequence begins. About three seconds later, the SSME's are commanded to begin throttling back at intervals of 10% thrust per second until they reach a thrust of 65% of rated power, called minimum power. Minimum power is maintained for just under seven seconds, then the SSME's shut down.
Originally posted by Realist05
For a different idea than the shuttle with all the same infrastructure, check out;