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  Pratt & Whitney J-2X engine development

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Author Topic:   Pratt & Whitney J-2X engine development
Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-16-2007 08:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Awards Upper Stage Engine Contract for Ares Rockets

NASA has signed a $1.2 billion contract with Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne Inc., of Canoga Park, Calif., for design, development, testing and evaluation of the J-2X engine that will power the upper stages of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles.

The contract includes ground and test flight engines. It continues work that began on June 2, 2006, under a preliminary letter contract with Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne.


A J-2 engine undergoes static firing. Credit: NASA

NASA awarded the cost-plus-award fee contract to Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne on a sole-source basis, NASA determined that no other existing capability meets its architecture requirements and is able to be extended to future exploration missions to the moon and beyond.

The contract performance period extends through Dec. 31, 2012. Engines for operational missions will be purchased through a separate contract.

The J-2X is an evolved version of two historic predecessors: the powerful J-2 engine that propelled the Apollo-era Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets, and the J-2S, a simplified version of the J-2 that was developed and tested in the early 1970s. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne designed and developed both the J-2 and the J-2S and has been responsible for producing, refurbishing and improving them. The J-2X engine will incorporate significant upgrades to meet higher performance and reliability requirements for the Ares vehicles.

Ares I is an in-line, two-stage rocket that will transport the Orion crew exploration vehicle to low Earth orbit. Orion will accommodate as many as six astronauts. The first stage will consist of a single reusable solid propellant rocket booster similar to those used on the space shuttle, with an additional fifth segment. The second, or upper, stage will consist of a J-2X liquid oxygen- and liquid hydrogen-fueled main engine and a new upper stage fuel tank.

Ares V will enable NASA to launch a variety of science and exploration payloads, as well as key components needed to go to the moon and later to Mars. Ares V, a heavy lift launch vehicle, will use five RS-68 liquid oxygen- and liquid hydrogen-fueled engines mounted below a larger version of the space shuttle's external tank and two five-segment solid propellant rocket boosters for the first stage. The upper stage will use the same J-2X engine as the Ares I.

The J-2X upper stage engine is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for NASA's Constellation Program.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-17-2007 07:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA to Begin Testing of Engine That Will Power Ares Rockets

In December, NASA will begin testing core components of a rocket engine from the Apollo era. Data from the tests will help NASA build the next generation engine that will power the nation's new Ares launch vehicles on voyages that will send humans to the moon.

NASA will test the engine's powerpack, a gas generator and turbopumps that perform the rocket engine's major pumping and combustion work. These components originally delivered propellants to the Apollo-era J-2 engine that fueled the second stage of the Saturn V rockets.


A vintage 1960 J-2 thrust chamber is fitted at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. Credit: NASA

NASA is using these heritage parts to develop a new engine, known as the J2-X, to power the upper stages of both the Ares I crew launch vehicle and the Ares V cargo launch vehicle. Results from the tests will help engineers modify the machinery to meet the higher performance requirements of these two next-generation rockets.

"The J-2X engine will incorporate significant upgrades to meet higher thrust and efficiency requirements for Ares," said Mike Kynard, manager of the upper stage engine in the Ares Projects Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "That's why we're taking a new look at these components -- to gather performance data, test their limits, and reduce risks down the road when we're building and testing the engine."

The powerpack tests will be conducted at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., where the components were installed in late September 2007.

"The final checkouts of the test article and facility are in work," said Gary Benton, test project manager of the Ares upper stage engine at Stennis. "The test team at Stennis has put a lot of effort into this project and looks forward to getting these first tests completed."

During the initial trials, engineers will run propellants through the powerpack, monitoring its ducts, valves and lines while simulating conditions as if it were attached to a rocket upper stage and main combustion chamber. Engineers will be able to preview conditions that might be present during an engine test fire.

The first test in the series will be a chill test, during which engineers will verify the tightness of seals in the fuel lines and pumps at propellant temperatures as low as minus 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Engineers also will verify accuracy of the chill procedure and determine the amount of time required to chill the pumps.

Later tests in the series will progress to include test fires at a variety of power levels and durations ranging from 12 seconds to 550 seconds. Testing is set to continue through February 2008.

The Ares rockets support NASA's goal of providing safe, reliable, affordable transportation to support sustainable, long-term exploration. The Ares I is an in-line, two-stage rocket that will transport the Orion crew vehicle to low Earth orbit. Orion will accommodate as many as six astronauts on missions to the International Space Station or as many as four crew members on lunar missions. The Ares V, a heavy-lift launch vehicle, will enable NASA to launch a variety of science and exploration payloads and key components needed to go to the moon.

The J-2X is an evolved version of two historic predecessors: the J-2 engine that propelled the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets, and the J-2S, a simplified version of the J-2 that was developed and tested in the early 1970s.

Marshall manages the J-2X upper stage engine for NASA's Constellation Program, based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Under a contract awarded in July 2007, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne Inc., of Canoga Park, Calif., will design, develop, test and evaluate the engine.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-09-2008 01:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Successfully Completes First Series of Ares Engine Tests

NASA engineers Thursday successfully completed the first series of tests in the early development of the J-2X engine that will power the upper stages of the Ares I and Ares V rockets, key components of NASA's Constellation Program. Ares I will launch the Orion spacecraft that will take astronauts to the International Space Station and then to the moon by 2020. The Ares V will carry cargo and components into orbit for trips to the moon and later to Mars.

NASA conducted nine tests of heritage J-2 engine components from December to May as part of a series designed to verify heritage J-2 performance data and explore performance boundaries. Engineers at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., conducted the tests on a heritage J-2 "powerpack," which, in a fully assembled engine, pumps liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the engine's main combustion chamber to produce thrust. The test hardware consisted of J-2 components used from the Apollo program in the1960s through the X-33 program of the 1990s.

"This series of tests is an important step in development of the J-2X engine," said Mike Kynard, manager of the upper stage engine for the Ares Projects at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "We started with a number of objectives and questions we needed answers to as we work to complete designs of the J-2X engine. The data we have gained will be invaluable as we continue the design process."

Data obtained from the tests will be used to refine the design of the J-2X pumps and other engine components to provide the additional performance required of this new engine. The J-2X engine is being designed to produce 294,000 pounds of thrust; the original J-2 produced 230,000 pounds of thrust.

The main objectives of the series were to resolve differences in heritage turbopump performance data and recent component-level tests, and investigate vibration and pressure drops through the turbopump inlet ducts. Tests in the series ran for durations up to 400 seconds and at power levels up to 274,000 pounds of thrust.

After the data from the test series has been reviewed and objectives met, Stennis will begin readying the test stand for the next series of tests, said Gary Benton, the J-2X project manager at Stennis.

Marshall manages the J-2X upper stage engine for the Constellation Program, based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Under a contract awarded in July 2007, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne Inc., of Canoga Park, Calif., will design, develop, test and evaluate the engine.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-18-2008 11:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Engineers Complete Engine Test Series For Ares I Rocket

Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., have completed a series of tests on a key component of the J-2X engine. The J-2X powers the upper stage of the Ares I rocket, which will launch human explorers to the International Space Station and to the moon.

The test on Aug. 15 was the last of 20 in this series, concluding the second of four planned sets of tests on the J-2X's workhorse gas generator, the driver for the turbopumps which start the engine.

The gas generator test program is designed to demonstrate the component's performance, durability and combustion environment, and to reduce risk in the design, fabrication and operation of flight hardware. The third phase of testing will begin in July 2009. The J-2X's workhorse gas generator is fabricated by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif.

The primary objectives achieved in this series of tests were to regulate ignition timing and address stability issues in the gas chamber. During engine start, a pressurized helium system begins to turn the turbopumps, which draw liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants into the system. The propellants flow into the generator's combustion chamber, where they are sparked into life by pyrotechnic igniters installed in the side of the main combustion chamber.

Once combustion is initiated, hot gases flow into the turbine. The combustion gas provided by the generator drives the turbomachinery, which delivers high pressure propellants to the main injector during the J-2X burn. This testing allows engineers to address stability issues that can arise during operation of the combustion chamber and will allow engineers to develop a clean design for the J-2X engine.

Beginning in 2015, the Ares I rocket will carry the Orion crew capsule and as many as six astronauts and small payloads to the International Space Station. During the first two-and-a-half minutes of flight, the first stage booster will power the vehicle to an altitude of about 189,000 feet, or 36 miles, at a speed of Mach 4.8. After its propellant is spent, the reusable booster will separate, and the upper stage's J-2X engine will ignite -- powering the Orion to low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 425,328 feet, or roughly 80 miles.

The workhorse gas generator test series is an essential step in development of the J-2X engine. More than 50 tests have been performed on the generator to date. This generator was manufactured to be more durable than the generators that will be used in the J-2X engine, allowing it to withstand numerous tests.

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston manages NASA's Constellation Program, which includes development of the Ares I rocket, the Ares V heavy launch vehicle for cargo launcher, the Orion crew capsule, and the Altair lunar lander. Marshall manages Ares projects for the agency.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
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Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-09-2008 10:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne release
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Contracted to Provide Additional J-2X Testing

NASA has awarded Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne a contract change to provide additional sea-level and simulated-altitude ground tests for the J-2X rocket engine. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. company.

Under the revised contract, engineers will conduct an additional 38 sea-level and 27 simulated-altitude tests on the J-2X engine at Stennis Space Center. The additional testing will increase data accuracy and reliability for development of the J-2X engine, which will power the new Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles. NASA's Ares vehicles will carry future astronauts to the International Space Station and the moon. Testing is expected to begin in late 2010.

"This contract will allow us to move from the development stage to the certification stage with a more mature engine design," said John Vilja, J-2X program manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. "Our goal is provide 100 percent mission success for the future Ares I and V launch vehicles."

The simulated-altitude ground tests will be conducted in a NASA test stand being built at Stennis Space Center specifically for the J-2X engine. The new test stand will allow engineers to simulate conditions at altitudes up to 100,000 feet by generating steam to reduce pressure in the test cell.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., a part of Pratt & Whitney, is a preferred provider of high-value propulsion, power, energy and innovative system solutions used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, missile defense systems and advanced hypersonic engines.

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.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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posted 12-22-2010 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne release
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Completes Assembly of Fuel Turbopump on NASA's J-2X Rocket Engine

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne successfully completed another major subassembly for NASA's first J-2X rocket engine. A highly-efficient and versatile engine, the J-2X will help sustain the critical design and manufacturing skills required for the United States to maintain its leadership position in human space exploration and its engineering expertise necessary to support national security. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. company.

The J-2X fuel turbopump assembly follows the successful assembly of the oxidizer turbopump, which delivers high-pressure liquid oxygen to the main injector. The engine, whose first hot-fire tests are planned for early 2011 at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, has the characteristics to power the upper-stage of a heavy-lift launch vehicle.

"Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne continues to demonstrate readiness and the capability to support NASA as the nation embarks upon the next era of human spaceflight," said Jim Maser, president, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

John Vilja, vice president and program manager for the J-2X engine, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, said the J-2X is a significant and long overdue development in upper-stage propulsion. "The J-2X will prove vital in continuing U.S. space exploration, advancing engineering skills, creating opportunities for missions beyond low-Earth orbit, and even providing opportunities for adaptation to alternate fuels in space," Vilja said.

The fuel pump is the heart of the J-2X engine. Much like the human heart pumps blood through the body, the fuel pump distributes liquid hydrogen through the engine at minus 400-degrees Fahrenheit. As the liquid hydrogen moves through the engine, it cools the main combustion chamber and nozzle, which are exposed to combustion gases that can reach temperatures up to 6,000-degrees Fahrenheit. The hydrogen is then mixed with the liquid oxygen and ignited to produce the thrust which will boost the launch vehicle.

The J-2X generates a tremendous amount of energy for what is a relatively small machine. For instance, if it could pump water, the engine's fuel pump would empty a 20,000-gallon swimming pool in less than two minutes. A single first-stage turbine blade, which is less than one-inch tall, can generate about 150 horsepower ā€“ or roughly the equivalent to the power of a compact automobile engine. These characteristics demonstrate a level of performance ideal for upper-stage lift of a heavy launch vehicle to the International Space Station and beyond.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-04-2011 09:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
J-2X Engine Assembly in Full Swing

Assembly of the first J-2X, dubbed engine 10001, is in full swing at NASA's Stennis Space Center.

Managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center, the J-2X engine is a highly efficient and versatile rocket engine that has the ideal performance characteristics to power the upper-stage of a heavy-lift launch vehicle. Fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, the J-2X engine will generate 294,000 pounds of thrust to propel a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit to the moon, an asteroid, or other celestial destination.

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 Pearlman
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posted 06-13-2011 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA 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 Pearlman
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NASA 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 Pearlman
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posted 11-10-2011 07:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA 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 Pearlman
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posted 12-21-2012 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA 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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