Stennis match for NASA

NASA is to build a test stand at the Stennis Space Centre in Mississippi to test the J-2X rocket engines it is developing to power the upper stages of NASA’s Ares I and Ares V rockets.



Stennis already is home to Apollo-era test stands that have served the US space programme through the shuttle era. The newly proposed structure will be the first large test stand built at the centre since the 1960s. Unlike the older structures, the new 91m tall, open-frame design will allow engineers to simulate conditions at different altitudes.



NASA engineers need to simulate various altitudes to test the J-2X’s ability to function as a second stage engine for the Ares I crew launch vehicle and the Earth Departure Stage engine for the Ares V cargo launch vehicle. To do that, the test stand will generate approximately 4,620 pounds per second of steam and use it to reduce the engine test cell pressure.



NASA will complete the new stand in time to support the first J-2X engine test in December 2010. An existing test stand at Stennis also is being modified to test the J-2X engine at sea level conditions.



Ares I will launch the Orion spacecraft, taking astronauts to the International Space Station no later than 2015, 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. The new spacecraft are key components of NASA’s Constellation Programme.



The test stand, along with its control centre, propellant barge docks and access roadways, will be built in Stennis A Complex.