Status Report

Qualification testing on X-33 flight engines now underway

By SpaceRef Editor
February 7, 2001
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Qualification test firings of the unique engines designed to propel
America’s X-33 space plane into high-speed, suborbital flight in 2003 began
Tuesday at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

The ignition test went the full scheduled duration of 1.1 seconds with no
observed anomalies.

Initial tandem test firings of the XRS-2200 Linear Aerospike engines will be
short bursts such as this, eventually leading to durations required to send
the unpiloted vehicle from a launch pad in California to landings in either
Utah or Montana.

The engines will power the X-33, a half-scale, sub-orbital flight
demonstrator of technology required for a reusable launch vehicle.

“Initial indications are all test objectives were met in this first test of
the flight engines,” 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 data and preparing to move into longer
duration testing.”

“I’m excited about beginning this phase of testing,” said Dr. Don Chenevert,
NASA’s X-33 project manager at Stennis. “I’m confident the remainder of
dual-engine testing will perform equally as well as this initial ignition

Eight more test firings of the twin flight engines are planned at Stennis
before they are delivered to Lockheed Martin’s X-33 assembly facility in
Palmdale, Calif.

Fourteen single-engine test firings of a development configuration of the
unique Aerospike engine were successfully completed at Stennis Space Center
in May 2000.

Boeing Rocketdyne developed the XRS-2200 Aerospike engine at its Canoga
Park, Calif., facility. Final engine assembly was done by the NASA/Boeing
Rocketdyne team at Stennis Space Center.

The X-33 project is being developed under a cooperative agreement between
NASA and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Denver, Colo. Marshall
Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the X-33 program for NASA.

SpaceRef staff editor.