NASA Successfully Completes First Series of Ares Engine Tests

May 09, 2008

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.

Source: NASA

Explore further: New solar telescope peers deep into the sun to track the origins of space weather

Related Stories

Data deluge: MLB rolls out Statcast analytics on Tuesday

Apr 21, 2015

Which outfielder sprints the fastest and runs the longest to snag line drives into the gap? Which shortstop is best at throwing from the grass to nip the runner at first? Which catcher gets the ball to second ...

Image: A view from NASA's Webb Bed-Chamber

Apr 13, 2015

This photo, taken from the inside of Chamber A, a giant cryogenic vacuum chamber at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, shows the large vehicle resembling a bed frame in the foreground that will move ...

Recommended for you

Radio silence as Russia tries to contact space cargo

45 minutes ago

Russia will try again in the coming hours to make contact with an unmanned cargo ship after communications were lost following the spacecraft's launch toward the International Space Station, NASA said Tuesday.

Strong evidence for coronal heating theory presented

3 hours ago

The Sun's surface is blisteringly hot at 6,000 kelvins or 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit—but its atmosphere is another 300 times hotter. This has led to an enduring mystery for those who study the Sun: What ...

The view from up there, down here

6 hours ago

When many people saw the first stunning photos of the fragile blue marble of Earth from space, it changed their outlook of humanity. It was a singular moment in time when people around the world were watching ...

The weird ways fire behaves in space (w/ Video)

8 hours ago

Light a match on earth and you can expect the flame to shoot up in a tapering bulb. But light that match in space and you might not even recognize the small, blue orb at the tip. That's because fire behaves ...

User comments : 0

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.