Mon, Mar 01, 2010
Commercial Engines To Be Tested As Agency Cooperates With
NASA's Stennis Space Center in
Stennis, MS, unveiled an initiative last week that it says will
chart the future of the rocket engine testing facility.
Stennis Director Gene Goldman announced plans for the center to
test Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines for Orbital Sciences Corp. as part
of a NASA partnership with the companies.
"We're excited about this program and the opportunity to
collaborate with two of the world's leading space technology
companies," Goldman said. "This also helps pave the way to the
future for Stennis. Testing the AJ26 engine not only supplies a
service for the Taurus II program, it also provides Stennis a
unique opportunity will help sustain the skills and capabilities we
need for future test projects."
The AJ26 testing is part of NASA's new direction for space
exploration. Under NASA's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget, NASA
will work closer with commercial interests to develop space travel
The Aerojet AJ26 is a prime example
of that new direction and of the immediate future of Stennis, which
completed engine testing for remaining space shuttle flights last
July. The AJ26 is the first new engine in years to be tested at
Stennis and representative of the commercial work the facility now
is pursuing. The center also provides RS-68 rocket engine testing
for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.
Stennis operators have been modifying their E-1 Test Stand since
last April in order to test the AJ26 engines. Work has included
construction of a 27-foot-deep flame deflector trench.
Orbital is working in partnership
with NASA under the agency's Commercial Orbital Transportations
Services (COTS) joint research and development project. Orbital is
under contract with NASA through the Commercial Resupply Services
program to provide eight cargo missions to the ISS through 2015.
The AJ26 Aerojet engines will power Orbital's Taurus II space
launch vehicle for the supply missions.
"Our team is very excited to begin the ground testing of the
AJ26 engine here at Stennis, one of the great rocket engine testing
facilities in the world," Orbital President and Chief Operating
Officer J.R. Thompson added. "We have worked with the NASA's
Stennis staff and our Aerojet counterparts to develop and install
facility upgrades to accommodate our particular needs, and we are
pleased with the results. As currently envisioned, each AJ26 engine
that will be used aboard our Taurus II rocket will come through the
Stennis facility for prelaunch testing, prior to being integrated
with the rocket."
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