Beating heart of J-2x engine finishes year of successful NASA tests

December 14, 2012

(Phys.org)—NASA on Thursday 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 is the first human-rated and engine developed in the United States in decades. Designed and built by 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 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 beyond low Earth orbit. The program is managed at Marshall.

Explore further: NASA's new upper stage engine passes major test

Related Stories

NASA's new upper stage engine passes major test

November 9, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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). ...

NASA ready to test upgraded J-2X powerpack

December 7, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- For engineers working on the J-2X engine program, installation of the upgraded J-2X powerpack on the A-1 Test Stand on Dec. 5 had to feel like a long-awaited holiday gift.

NASA's J-2X engine kicks off 2012 with powerpack testing

January 26, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new series of tests on the engine that will help carry humans to deep space will begin next week at NASA's Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi. The tests on the J-2X engine bring NASA one step ...

NASA performs first J-2X powerpack test of the year

February 16, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Engineers at NASA's Stennis Space Center conducted an initial test of the J-2X engine powerpack Feb. 15, kicking off a series of key tests in development of the rocket engine that will carry humans deeper ...

J-2X engine ready for second test series

April 25, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The next-generation engine that will help carry humans deeper into space than ever is back, bigger and better. The J-2X engine is currently on the A-2 Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi ...

A summer of records for NASA engine testing

July 25, 2012

(Phys.org) -- As Olympic athletes converge on London with dreams of winning gold in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, NASA is also setting records while testing the J-2X powerpack at the Stennis Space Center. The first time ...

Recommended for you

Astronomers detect the farthest galaxy yet with Keck telescope

September 4, 2015

A team of Caltech researchers that has spent years searching for the earliest objects in the universe now reports the detection of what may be the most distant galaxy ever found. In an article published August 28, 2015 in Astrophysical ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.