NASA has completed the first full burn test of the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne J-2X rocket engine. The engine, powered by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, was fired on 9November at the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi.

"The test went great. It went for the full 500s, which was the maximum duration it could have run," said Ron Ramos, P&W Rocketdyne vice president of exploration and missile defence.

The engine will power the second stage of the space launch system (SLS), the 98metre (320ft)-tall launch vehicle that is planned to launch crewed capsules to Mars. Though SLS is planned for a test flight in 2017, Rocketdyne officials say it is unlikely the J-2X will be ready to fly unless funding is increased.

Rocketdyne will assemble five engines for test purposes by 2015. Construction of the second engine is nearly completed, and will begin testing in mid-2012.

The engine can generate 133,356kg (294,000lbs) of thrust. Predecessor versions of the engine powered the second stage of NASA Saturn V rockets, which launched the Apollo missions to the moon.

Source: Flight International