NASA has successfully completed its first series of tests, conducted from December 2007 to May this year at NASA's Stennis Space Center, for its J-2X upper stage engine's turbomachinery.

The J-2X, to be built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, will power the Ares I crew launch vehicle's upper stage and the Ares V's Earth departure stage. The J-2X engine is being designed to produce 294,000lb of thrust (1,308kN), while the J-2 produced 230,000lb of thrust.

"This series of tests is an important step in development of the J-2X engine. The data we have gained will be invaluable as we continue the design process," says Mike Kynard, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's Ares project office's upper-stage engine manager.

J-2x upper stage engine

Nine tests took place at Stennis using components from the Apollo programme's J-2 engine, which is the basis for the J-2X. The test objectives were to resolve differences in J-2 turbopump performance data and recent component-level tests. Vibration and pressure drops through the turbopump inlet ducts were also investigated.

The data will be used to refine the design of the J-2X pumps and other engine components. The nine tests saw durations of up to 400s and at power levels of up to 274,000lb thrust.

Source: Flight International