NASA engineers Thursday successfully completed the first series of tests in the early development of the J-2X engine (link to artists rendition of the final 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.
Watch NASA’s Ares Quarterly Video Update: May 2008 (pops WMP)