Beating Heart of J-2X Engine Finishes Year of Successful NASA Tests
The J-2X powerpack assembly was fired up one last time on Dec. 13 at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, finishing a year of testing on an important component of America's next heavy-lift rocket. The powerpack assembly burned millions of pounds of propellants during a series of 13 tests during 2012 totaling more than an hour and a half. NASA engineers will remove the assembly from the test stand to focus on tests of the fully integrated engine. Installation on a test stand at Stennis will begin in 2013. 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 J-2X engine, designed and built by NASA and industry partner Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., will power the upper stage of the 143-ton (130-metric-ton) Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. 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 human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The program is managed at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.