NASA to build second stand at Stennis Center

Published 7:01 pm Thursday, May 10, 2007

One of the rocket engines NASA is developing for its new launch vehicles will be tested at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The agency has decided to build a new test stand at Stennis for the J-2X engine, which will power the upper stages of NASA’s Ares I and Ares V rockets.

Stennis already is home to Apollo-era test stands that have served the nation’s space program through the shuttle era. The newly proposed structure will be the first large test stand built at the center since the 1960s. Unlike the older structures, the new 300-foot-tall open-frame design will allow engineers to simulate conditions at different altitudes.

NASA engineers need to simulate conditions at various altitudes to test the J-2X’s ability to function as a second stage engine for Ares I and the Earth Departure Stage engine for the Ares V cargo launch vehicle. To do that, the test stand will generate approximately 4,620 pounds per second of steam and use it to reduce the engine test cell pressure.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The new stand will be completed in time to support the first J-2X engine test in December 2010. An existing test stand at Stennis also is being modified to test the J-2X engine at sea level conditions.

Ares I will launch the Orion spacecraft, taking astronauts to the International Space Station no later than 2015, then to the moon by 2020. Ares I is a key component of NASA’s Constellation Program.

“This announcement will be added to the historical chronicles of Stennis Space Center,” said SSC Director Richard J. Gilbrech.

“This new test stand will enable critical testing needed to verify the Ares I upper stage engine performance at altitude conditions. The Apollo-era test stands have served us well over the last 40 years, and I’m excited that NASA will have a new stand to take us into the next 40 years as we aspire to return to the moon and eventually land a human on Mars.”

The test stand, along with its control center, propellant barge docks and access roadways, will be built in Stennis Space Center’s A Complex.