Work continues to prepare the E-1 Test Stand at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center for testing the rocket engines that will power commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station.
Stennis has partnered with Orbital Science Corporation to test Aerojet AJ26 engines that will power Orbital's Taurus® II space launch vehicles. In partnership with NASA, Orbital will use those vehicles to provide eight commercial cargo missions to the ISS through 2015.
The partnership is part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services initiative. The Stennis rocket engine testing agreement with Orbital is a prime example of NASA's new direction to work closer with commercial interests to develop space travel capabilities.
Stennis operators have been modifying the E-1 Test Stand since last April to provide the necessary engine testing. Work has included construction of a 27-foot-deep flame deflector trench needed for the project.
Under the proposed fiscal 2011 federal budget, NASA will end its Constellation Program to return to the moon and possibly beyond. The agency's Space Shuttle Program also ends later this year. Instead, NASA will work closer with commercial interests to develop space travel capabilities.
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