Eleventh Engine To Be Tested At Stennis Space Center In Support Of Antares Rocket
An Aerojet AJ26 engine was successfully hot fired Thursday at NASA's Stennis Space Center. Orbital Sciences Corporation, Aerojet, and NASA monitored the full-duration test in support of the Antares rocket program. This is the eleventh AJ26 engine to be tested at Stennis.
"This test kicks off a crucial year for the AJ26 engine," said Aerojet Executive Director of Space & Launch Programs, Pete Cova. "We have multiple engine acceptance tests at Stennis in the plan as well as support of the upcoming Antares Stage 1 Hot Fire Test and the first demonstration test flight. Our team has worked hard to get to this point and we're looking forward to seeing AJ26 engines fly."
Following review of the test data, the AJ26 will be configured for flight and shipped to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility for integration with Orbital's Antares rocket and will provide boost for the first stage of the Antares rocket. Aerojet's AJ26 engine is an oxidizer-rich, staged-combustion LO2/Kerosene engine that achieves very high performance in a lightweight compact package. The AJ26 is a modified NK-33 engine originally designed and produced in Russia for the Russian N1 lunar launch vehicle. Aerojet purchased approximately 40 NK-33 engines in the mid-1990s and, under contract with Orbital, the company is modifying the engines specifically for the Antares rocket. Aerojet has been developing design modifications to the NK-33 since the mid-1990s to ensure that the AJ26 is suitable for commercial launchers.
In addition to the AJ26 certification testing, each AJ26 engine to be used on an Antares rocket will come through the Stennis facility for pre-launch acceptance testing prior to being integrated with the rocket. The Antares rocket vehicle is being developed to boost payloads into a variety of low-Earth and geosynchronous transfer orbits and to Earth escape trajectories. It incorporates proven technologies from a worldwide network of suppliers. The Antares rocket will also be available to civil government and U.S. military customers for dedicated launch services for medium-class scientific and national security satellites.