tetrahedrassface writes: Stennis Space Center spent a long summer testing the J2-X engine. The story hasn't received much press, but Stennis, and the J2-X had a very good summer indeed. Of note for this critical piece of equipment that will help up once again undertake manned exploration class space mission was that it smashed its endurance record not once, but twice. The first was the successful throttling up and down of the engine for 1,150 seconds. The second came on July 24'th with a test that lasted 1,350 seconds. That's great news for NASA as they try to move forward past the Shuttle Era and back into an age of beyond Low Earth Orbit manned missions.
tetrahedrassface writes: "NASA successfully test fired the J-2X engine today for 500 seconds at Stennis Space Center. The J2-X is derived from the J2 engine from the Apollo Era, and will power the upper stage of the SLS. From the article: 'We have 500 seconds of good data, and the first look is that everything went great. The J-2X engine team and the SLS program as a whole are extremely happy that we accomplished a good, safe and successful test today,” said Mike Kynard, Space Launch System Engines Element Manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. “This engine test firing gives us critical data to move forward in the engine’s development.'"
tetrahedrassface writes: It's no secret the manned U.S space program is in dire straits. The cancellation of the pricey Constellation program, and the shuttering of the Shuttle fleet is leaving our manned presence reliant on Russian rockets, while pinning our domestic manned aspirations on as-yet-developed platforms. Now potential budget cuts loom for a program that just weeks ago was 'salvaged' in a grand gesture of Congressional compromise, yet in which Congress did not give money to, and likely will not fund. Meant to be built using off the shelf components of the Shuttle, the heavy lift vehicle is encountering doubts as to whether it can be built on time and on budget, leaving many in the space community worried that NASA's manned space program is on a terminal trajectory with terra firma, never to rise like the phoenix again. As infighting brews amongst participants in the program some of the power players (Lockheed) is trying to change the tone of the debate, by offering an Orion capsule stacked on top of a Delta IV-Heavy; a system with many successful launches under its belt. According to John Karas, who is the GM of Lockheeds Manned Flight division, 'Everybody's arguing, debating. We are in this giant storm with no direction, and more than likely we're gonna get hit with more waves of money cuts. So we have to have some future plan here; some future direction — or we're just going to get capsized,'. A giant storm indeed; trying to navigate the minefield and trip the light fantastic while unseen hands keep changing the tempo of the song leaving us to wonder where is the downbeat in the symphony of spaceflight.