NASA Prepares J-2X Engine for Second Set of Tests
April 25, 2012 5:41 PM
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NASA plans to test the J-2X engine throughout the rest of this year
NASA announced that its next-generation J-2X engine will begin its second round of tests starting today.
The J-2X engine is a redesign of the J-2 engine that carried astronauts to the moon during the 1960s and 1970s. It was developed by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, which were
awarded a $1.2 billion NASA contract
The J-2X is the first new liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen rocket engine made in 40 years that will be able to send humans into space again. In fact, the J-2X engine is designed to power deep space missions and will be used for
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS)
, which is a heavy-lift rocket intended for deep space missions.
Last year, NASA conducted the first round of testing on the J-2X engine, which resulted in successful test firings. In that particular round of sea-level tests, the J-2X engine was fired 10 times total for 1,040 seconds, reaching 100 percent power in just four tests. It also met a full flight-duration firing of 500 seconds in the eighth test, which proved to be quicker than any other U.S. engine.
Now, the J-2X is on to its second round of testing starting today. NASA will now simulate high-altitude conditions where there is lower atmospheric pressure. According to Tom Byrd, J-2X engine lead from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, J-2X engines will be tested in the SLS' second stage of flight where nozzle data and overall performance will be monitored.
"We're making steady and tangible progress on our new heavy-lift rocket that will launch astronauts on journeys to destinations farther in our solar system," said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator. "As we continue test firings of the J-2X engine and a myriad of other work to open the next great chapter of exploration, we're demonstrating our commitment right now to America's continued leadership in space."
The United States' role in space has been a hot topic since
NASA retired its space shuttle fleet last year
Since that retirement, American astronauts have been forced to depend on Russian Soyuz rockets to make their way to the International Space Station (ISS), where the cost of one seat on the Russian spacecraft is expected to increase to $63 million by 2015
. The U.S. knew it had to find another way to the ISS without depending on Russia, so it jumped on the private space travel industry to fill in the gap.
SpaceX, which is expected to be the first private company to
send a spacecraft to the ISS on May 7
, stepped up with its Dragon cargo capsule in an attempt to fill the void of the space shuttle fleet.
With the U.S. back in the space race, NASA plans to test the J-2X engine throughout the rest of this year. The engine is currently on the A-2 Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
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4/26/2012 5:08:10 AM
Are you thinking of laser propulsions systems that reflect the laser to impart momentum? If so then sure they'll never get there for your reasons. But there are other methods for using lasers for propulsion. There's the use of microwave lasers to create plasma that can be electrodynamically accelerated to give thrust. Hell you could shoot a powerful laser at an ablative target within a nozzle to give thrust BY the destruction you mentioned.
Yes as a mass travels up a tether the counter weight mass would become retarded, however if the counterbalance is oversized correctly this would cause the net force on the mass to no longer be vertical and would tend to right the system (potentially with oscillation which is a problem) little fuel needed. If there is cargo transfer earthbound (there's little point in industry in space if goods don't come back to a human market) they can be scheduled to effectively negate each other.
Hurricanes and tornadoes can cause issues but the thickness of a tether at the Earth's surface is not that great.
Regarding earthquakes, sure they can strike randomly and do significant damage but you can mitigate that danger by selecting low risk sites and at worst if the cable detaches at the Earth's surface it drifts up, how much depends on the counterbalancing, and then it's a matter of repositioning it to reattach it, something that would have had to have been solved to install the tether in the first place.
Debris strikes can my mitigated by redundancy and ability to repair sections. Animal strikes.... I doubt a bird strike will do much to a cable capable of of suspending multi-tonne loads. The counterbalance itself is not much of a sitting target itself, it can raise and lower its orbit, retard and advance it. Considering the mass required it would be a captured comet or asteroid itself and most of that would be shielding for an structures so only large debris would be an issue which are easier to track and avoid.
It's not how dense the cable needs to be it's how strong/density the cable material needs to be and it's already been calculated how strong it needs to be. For a non-tapered cable (a worst case cable profile) carbon nanotube and graphene cables are both theoretically strong enough, it's just scaling it up is the issue. So no laws of physics need to be rewritten.
4/26/2012 5:33:51 AM
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