Beating Heart of J-2X Engine Finishes Year of Successful Testing
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."
Views of the J-2X powerpack test at
Stennis Space Center on Dec. 13, 2012.
View large images
"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."
Watch a video of the test:
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.
The SLS will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft and other payloads from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, providing an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The program is managed at Marshall.
For more information about the J-2X engine and NASA's Space Launch System, including links to video and images of Thursday's test, visit:
Rachel Kraft, 202-358-1100
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Kim Henry, 256-544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center
Rebecca Strecker, 228-688-3249
Stennis Space Center, Bay St. Louis, Miss.