NASA’s engineers recently started a new series of tests for their J2-X engine, slated to power the shuttle-replacing Space Launch System.
Following the retirement of the Space Shuttle, NASA announced its replacement in the form of the Space Launch System. Not having had a need for new rocket engines in a long time, NASA started designing new engines from scratch, basing the new design J2-X on the J2 engines originally designed for the Saturn rockets that first flew in the 1960s.
Each of the new J2-X engines is nearly 5 meters tall, almost 3 meters wide and is designed to produced around 130 metric tonnes of thrust. It is planned that there will be three of these beautifully monstrous engines attached to the earth departure stage of the SLS.
A new series of tests on the J2-X engine started on February 15th at NASA’s Stennis test facility in Mississippi, aimed at determining the effects of altering different fuel/oxidiser inlet pressures and raised engine temperatures on performance. Once these tests are completed it will be attached to a different test ring and a new series will be started testing gimballing (steering) the engine for the first time.
The engine is being designed and built in a partnership between NASA and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.
Image Credit: NASA Stennis Space Center