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: Scientists 'map' water vapor in Martian atmosphere

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Four Galileo satellites at ESA test centre

6 hours ago

ESA engineers unwrapped a welcome Christmas present: the latest Galileo satellite. The navigation satellite will undergo a full checkout in Europe's largest satellite test facility to prove its readiness ...

Recommended for you

Scientists 'map' water vapor in Martian atmosphere

41 minutes ago

Russian scientists from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), together with their French and American colleagues, have ...

Water fleas prepared for trip to space

5 hours ago

Local 'Daphnia' waterfleas are currently being prepared by scientists at the University of Birmingham for their trip to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will be observed by astronauts.

The worst trip around the world

5 hours ago

As you celebrate the end of the year in the warmth of your home, spare a thought for the organisms riding with a third-class ticket on the International Space Station – bolted to the outside with no protection ...

Funding challenges for Orion and SLS

6 hours ago

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of Congress, which exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve ...

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.