NASA tested on Nov. 9 the J-2X engine that will power the upper stage of the agency’s next manned space vehicle for deep space missions.
The 500-second test at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi simulated conditions during a flight of the Space Launch System and demonstrated the engine’s ability to take humans beyond low-earth orbit.
The J-2X engine was developed and built at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in Canoga Park. The company will assemble and test five development engines through 2013, said Ron Ramos, vice president of exploration and missile defense systems with Pratt & Whitney.
Pratt & Whitney is also repurposing main engines used for the Space Shuttle as the main engine for the Space Launch System. The company has 15 remaining RS25 engines being shipped to Stennis Space Center.
“We are not building any new RS25 hardware right now,” Ramos said. “We will ultimately if all goes as planned.”
The Space Launch System, is the first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V rocket that took U.S. astronauts to the moon during the Apollo program. The first mission, which will use the main engine but not the upper stage engine, is scheduled for 2017.