Status Report

Aerospike engine sets new duration record in abbreviated test

By SpaceRef Editor
May 16, 2000
Filed under

Dave Drachlis
Media Relations Department
(256) 544-0034

Paul Foerman
Public Affairs Office
Stennis Space Center, Miss.
(228) 688-1880

Dan Beck
Media Relations Office
Boeing Rocketdyne
(818) 586-4572


The linear aerospike engine that will power the X-33 technology
demonstrator vehicle set a new duration record of 290 seconds
in an abbreviated test at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space
Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss., Friday, May 12. The longest
previous test was 263 seconds in duration.

Friday’s test, which was planned to last 325 seconds, was
terminated 35 seconds early when a flexible seal that prevents
hot exhaust gas from circulating into the engine cavity began to
erode. Post-test inspections have revealed no other damage to
the engine or supporting hardware.

The high-stress condition under which the flex seal eroded – low
power operation at sea level — is test-peculiar and would not be
present during flight. Additionally, the seal was previously
hot-fired and exposed to engine exhaust for 775 seconds, the
equivalent of more than three flights. Engineers are assessing
the erosion to determine what action is needed.

“Despite the abbreviated test, almost all of our test objectives
have been met,” said Mike McKeon, program manager for the
XRS-2200 aerospike engine at the Rocketdyne Propulsion &
Power business of The Boeing Company. “We are now
reviewing the program and will decide if we need to conduct an
additional single-engine test, or pick up the last couple of
objectives during the dual-engine phase of the program.” This
test was the last of 14 planned in the single-engine phase of the
engine’s flight certification program.

The XRS-2200 engine was developed and assembled by
Rocketdyne at Canoga Park, Calif. and Stennis. The engine will
power the X-33, a half-scale, sub-orbital technology
demonstrator of Lockheed Martin’s proposed, commercial
reusable launch vehicle called VentureStarTM.

The X-33 is being developed in a partnership between NASA
and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Palmdale, Calif.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.,
manages the X-33 program for NASA.

SpaceRef staff editor.