NASA engineers conduct a test of the new J-2X rocket engine at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on July 13. The J-2X engine will power the upper-stage of a planned two-stage Space Launch System, or SLS. (NASA/SSC)
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More about J-2X If you've ever wondered what it takes to test-fire a rocket engine when it's not attached to the actual rocket, you can find out during a live tweet chat on Dec. 5. As NASA continues design work on the Space Launch System - the new rocket that will allow humans to explore farther into space than ever before - we'll peer behind the scenes of a J-2X power pack assembly test. The power pack is a system of components designed to feed propellants to the bell nozzle of the engine to produce thrust.
NASA will tweet live from the Test Control Center at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and from the data room at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., providing real-time insights, in 140 characters or less, of what it takes to pull off a rocket engine test. As rocket scientists ready for the test at Stennis, you'll hear from engineers and be able to ask questions, before, during and after the test.
To join and track the conversation online, follow the Space Launch System Twitter account @NASA_SLS at approximately 9 a.m. CST. To ask questions of NASA's world-class engineers and test conductors as they light up a real J-2X power pack assembly, use hashtag #askSLS.
The J-2X engine - built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., - will power the upper stage of NASA's Space Launch System, managed at the Marshall Center. The largest rocket ever built, the initial SLS configuration will be capable of lifting 70 metric tons beyond low-Earth orbit - the equivalent of 50 sport utility vehicles. However, instead of a few dozen SUVs, it will carry astronauts on board the Orion spacecraft, providing an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit to deep space destinations.
The evolved SLS will be a more robust design, able to lift 130 metric tons or the equivalent of 75 SUVs, with the J-2X engine powering the upper stage. The combination of these designs will allow humans to travel farther beyond low-Earth orbit to nearby asteroids and even to Mars.
Follow SLS on Twitter at @NASA_SLS. For more information about NASA's Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket visit: