Thursday, November 10, 2011

NASA: New Upper Stage Engine Passes Major Test

NASA's development of the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) which will carry manned crews on future deep space missions was bolstered Wednesday by a successful test firing of the new J-2X upper stage engine.

SLS will carry the Orion spacecraft on future deep space missions planned to launch in 2021. One stated goal for a future deep space would land a crew on an asteroid by 2025. Developed by Rocketdyne, the J-2X was developed from the second-stage engine used on the Saturn V. The SLS will reuse the space shuttle main engines for the first stage, along with shuttle program  derived solid rocket boosters.

A NASA press release stated:

"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."

Florida Today's Todd Halvorson offered this account:

Mounted in a test stand at Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss., the J-2X engine roared to life as spectators looked on from a safe distance. A loud whoosh of bright white exhaust poured from its nozzle and then billowed for 8 minutes and 20 seconds — a first-time full-duration test-firing. The engine created an acoustical adrenaline rush.

“It did sound great, didn’t it?” said Michael Kynard, manager of the J-2X upper stage engine project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
A team of NASA and contractor engineers, many wearing loud-and-proud Hawaiian shirts, operated the engine from a nearby control center. Based on a quick look at the data produced, they said the $350,000 test appeared to be a success.

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