Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has completed a series of successful tests on a gas generator for the J-2X rocket engine.
The J-2X engine will power the new Ares I and Ares V second-stage launch vehicles scheduled to send US astronauts to the International Space Station and back to the moon by 2020.
The gas generator for the J-2X will use the same technology currently used on the RS-68, the largest liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen rocket engine developed to power the Delta IV family of expendable launch vehicle.
Tests on this newly designed generator have helped determine the performance and stability of the J-2X configuration and have helped engineers finalise the specifications for the unit to be tested on the powerpack and development engines. This unit is the first full-scale hot-fire testing for J-2X components.
John Vilja, J-2X programme manager at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, said: ‘We are using heritage technology with a successful track record of reliability and performance and applying modern technology to create a safer, more efficient product for our customer.
‘It’s a dynamic blend of modern science and proven technology as we move in to the next-generation of space-launch vehicles. This approach will significantly reduce the overall cost of the development programme.’
The J-2X engine uses legacy technology from the J-2 and J-2S engines in the design and development of the fuel pump and oxidiser pumps.