Rocket engine maker Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne successfully completed the last hot-fire test on the J-2X powerpack - an important step toward development of America's next rocket engine designed for human spaceflight.
NASA has selected the J-2X as the upper-stage propulsion for the Space Launch System (SLS), an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle.
The J-2X powerpack tests were designed to evaluate the full range of operating conditions of the engine's components during flight.
The powerpack was tested separately from the engine because it can be operated more thoroughly and at a wider range of conditions than a fully assembled engine.
The powerpack consists of components on top of the engine, including the gas generator, the oxygen and fuel turbopumps, and the ducts, valves and controls that bring the propellants together to drive the turbines of the two turbopumps.
Throughout the test series, which began in February 2012 at John C Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the powerpack was fired 13 times for a total of more than 100 minutes – at one point breaking a single-test record of 1,350 seconds on the A-1 test stand.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne engineers used varying pressures, temperatures and flow rates to ensure the engine is ready to support exploration to low-Earth orbit, Mars and beyond.