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Forum:Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
Topic:Pratt & Whitney J-2X engine development
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Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif. is the prime contractor for the design and manufacture of the J-2X. Hot fire testing of Engine 10001 is targeted for later this summer at Stennis.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
Upper Stage Engine Ready For Testing At NASA's Stennis Space Center

NASA's new J-2X rocket engine, which could power the upper stage of the nation's future heavy-lift launch vehicle, is ready for its first round of testing. The fully assembled engine was installed Saturday in the A-2 Test Stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Beginning in mid-June, the engine will undergo a series of 10 test firings that will last several months.

"An upper stage engine is essential to making space exploration outside low-Earth orbit a reality," said Mike Kynard, manager of the J-2X upper stage engine project at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "The J-2X goes beyond the limits of its historic predecessor and achieves higher thrust, performance, and reliability than the J2. We are thrilled to have the engine in the test stand to validate our assumptions about engine performance and reliability."

The test stand, which supported the space shuttle main engine project, has been modified to accommodate the J-2X engine's different shape. In addition to the structural, electrical and plumbing modifications, a new engine start system was installed and control systems were upgraded on the stand. The liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen transfer lines that dated back to the 1960s were replaced.

Fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, the J-2X engine will generate 294,000 pounds of thrust in its primary operating mode to propel a spacecraft into low-Earth orbit.

By changing the mixture ratio of liquid oxygen to liquid hydrogen, the Jā€“2X can operate in a secondary mode of 242,000 pounds of thrust required to power a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit to the moon, an asteroid or other celestial destination. The J-2X can start and restart in space to support a variety of mission requirements.

"We are excited to have a new engine in the A-2 Test Stand," said Gary Benton, manager of the J-2X engine testing project at Stennis. "Installation of the J-2X engine marks the beginning of the third major rocket engine test project on this historic stand."

The A-2 Test Stand originally was used to test Saturn V rocket stages for NASA's Apollo Program. In the mid-1970s, the stand was modified from Apollo Program parameters to allow testing of space shuttle main engines.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., designed and built the J-2X for NASA.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
NASA Tests Deep Space J-2X Rocket Engine at Stennis

NASA conducted a 40-second test of the J-2X rocket engine Sept. 28, the most recent in a series of tests of the next-generation engine selected as part of the Space Launch System architecture that will once again carry humans into deep space. It was a test at the 99 percent power level to gain a better understanding of start and shutdown systems as well as modifications that had been made from previous test firing results.

The test at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi came just two weeks after the agency announced plans for the new SLS to be powered by core-stage RS-25 D/E and upper-stage J-2X engines. The liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen J-2X is being developed for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
NASA's New Upper Stage Engine Passes Major Test

NASA conducted a successful 500-second test firing of the J-2X rocket engine on Wednesday, Nov. 9, marking another important step in development of an upper stage for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS).

SLS will carry the Orion spacecraft, its crew, cargo, equipment and science experiments to destinations in deep space. SLS will be safe, affordable and sustainable to continue America's journey of discovery from the unique vantage point of space.

"The J-2X engine is critical to the development of the Space Launch System," Dan Dumbacher, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said after the test at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. "Today's test means NASA is moving closer to developing the rocket it needs if humans are to explore beyond low-Earth orbit."

Data from the test will be analyzed as operators prepare for additional engine firings. The J-2X and the RS-25D/E engines for the SLS core stage will be tested for flight certification at Stennis. Both engines use liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. The core stage engines were developed originally for the space shuttle.

"The J-2X engine team and the SLS program as a whole are extremely happy that we accomplished a good, safe and successful test today," said Mike Kynard, Space Launch System Engines Element Manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "This engine test firing gives us critical data to move forward in the engine's development."

Stennis has tested engines that carried Americans to space in both the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. The J-2X engine is being developed for Marshall by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif.

"We look forward to adding to the legacy as we fulfill our responsibility to test engines that will power America's next launch vehicle," said Stennis Director Patrick Scheuermann.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
Beating Heart of J-2x Engine Finishes Year of Successful NASA Tests

NASA on Thursday (Dec. 13) took another step toward human exploration of new destinations in the solar system. At the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, engineers conducted the final test-firing of the J-2X powerpack assembly, an important component of America's next heavy-lift rocket.

The J-2X engine is the first human-rated liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen engine developed in the United States in decades. Designed and built by NASA and industry partner Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., the engine will power the upper stage of NASA's 143-ton (130-metric-ton) Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The powerpack is a system of components on top of the engine that feeds propellants to the bell nozzle of the engine to produce thrust.

"The determination and focus by teams at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Stennis on designing and perfecting the J-2X engine helps show the great strides of progress made on the overall program," said SLS Program Manager Todd May. "We are inspired to stay the course and pursue our goal of exploring deep space and traveling farther than ever before."

The powerpack was worked out separately from the engine to more thoroughly test its limits. It also can be operated under a wider range of conditions. The tests provide a trove of data to compare with analytical predictions of the performance of several parts in the turbopump and flexible ducts.

"These tests at Stennis are similar to doctor-ordered treadmill tests for a person's heart," said Tom Byrd, J-2X engine lead in the SLS Liquid Engines Office at Marshall in Huntsville, Ala. "The engineers who designed and analyze the turbopumps inside the powerpack are like our doctors, using sensors installed in the assembly to monitor the run over a wide range of stressful conditions. We ran the assembly tests this year for far longer than the engine will run during a mission to space, and acquired a lot of valuable information that will help us improve the development of the J-2X engine."

The powerpack assembly burned millions of pounds of propellants during a series of 13 tests totaling more than an hour and a half in 2012. The testing team set several records for hot-firing duration at Stennis test stands during the summer. NASA engineers will remove the assembly from the test stand to focus on tests of the fully integrated engine. Installation on a test stand at Stennis will begin in 2013.

See here for discussion of NASA's heavy-lift launch vehicle development efforts.

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