Relativity Seeks to Disrupt Smallsat Launch Industry

A startup named Relativity has conducted more than six dozen test firings of a new liquid oxygen/liquid methane rocket engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, CEO Tim Ellis told a Senate subcommittee last week.

“Relativity is a stealth-mode startup re-imagining the way orbital rockets are built and flown,” said Ellis, who co-founded the company. “We are creating a new launch service for orbital payloads enabled by never-seen-before technologies, allowing for a high degree of launch schedule certainty at significantly reduced cost.”

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Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 Engine Sets U.S. Record

Staged-combustion testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for the AR1 program is being developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss., (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), recently demonstrated the highest chamber pressure of any United States produced liquid oxygen and kerosene main combustion system. This milestone occurred during a series of successful test firings of the AR1’s staged combustion system at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

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Video: NASA Tests RS-25 Engine for Use on SLS

Video Caption: The 7.5-minute test conducted at NASA’s Stennis Space Center is part of a series of tests designed to put the upgraded former space shuttle engines through the rigorous temperature and pressure conditions they will experience during a launch. The tests also support the development of a new controller, or “brain,” for the engine, which monitors engine status and communicates between the rocket and the engine, relaying commands to the engine and transmitting data back to the rocket.

AR1 Engine Undergoes Testing at NASA Stennis

Aerojet Rocketdyne tests the AR1 subscale preburner at NASA's Stennis Space Center. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)
Aerojet Rocketdyne tests the AR1 subscale preburner at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 17, 2016 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD), achieved full-power during a critical preburner test series at NASA’s Stennis Space Center earlier this month. The test series successfully verified key preburner injector design parameters for the company’s AR1 engine that is being designed to end use of Russian engines for national security space launches.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA Stennis Sign Agreement for AR1 Engine Testing

Aerojet Rocketdyne recently conducted hot-fire testing of a multi-element preburner injector for the AR1 rocket engine. A similar multi-element injector built using additive manufacturing will be hot-fire tested this spring. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)
Aerojet Rocketdyne recently conducted hot-fire testing of a multi-element preburner injector for the AR1 rocket engine. A similar multi-element injector built using additive manufacturing will be hot-fire tested this spring. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 16, 2015 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA Stennis Space Center signed a Space Act Agreement for test services and test stand support of the AR1 multi-element pre-burner and main injector. Currently in development by Aerojet Rocketdyne, the AR1 engine is a replacement for the Russian-made RD-180 engines that power the Atlas V launch vehicle. This agreement builds on the current assembly and testing of the company’s RS-68 and RS-25 engines at NASA Stennis.

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Successful RS-25 Firing at NASA Stennis

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NASA PR) — The new year is off to a hot start for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The engine that will drive America’s next great rocket to deep space blazed through its first successful test Jan. 9 at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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Orbital Pushes Back ISS Cargo Flight By 1 Week

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus cargo craft moves away from the International Space Station's robotic arm shortly after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)
Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo craft moves away from the International Space Station’s robotic arm shortly after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)

Mission Update – May 28, 2014
Via Orbital Sciences Corporation

Orbital has rescheduled the launch of its Antares rocket for the Orb-2 mission to a date of no earlier than (NET) June 17, 2014. Orb-2 is the second of eight cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station under Orbital’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.

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Report: Antares AJ-26 Engine Fails During Static Fire at Stennis

AJ26 test firing. (Credit: Aerojet)
AJ26 test firing. (Credit: Aerojet)

NASASpaceflight.com reports on a failure of an AJ-26 engine during a static fire on Thursday:

One of the AJ-26 engines set to launch with a future Antares rocket has failed during testing at the Stennis Space Center on Thursday. Sources claim the engine “exploded” on a Stand located in the E Complex at the famous rocket facility. The failure is currently under evaluation, although it may delay the next Antares launch that is tasked with lofting the the ORB-2 Cygnus to the International Space Station (ISS).

Not a lot of details at this point.  I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

Raptor Test Stand Ribbon Cutting Takes Place at NASA Stennis

NASA and SpaceX cut the ribbon at the E-2 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center on April 21 to mark the beginning of a new testing partnership. SpaceX will test components of its methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine on the stand. Participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were (l to r): Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and NASA’s Stennis Space Center Director Rick Gilbrech. (Credit: NASA)
NASA and SpaceX cut the ribbon at the E-2 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center on April 21 to mark the beginning of a new testing partnership. SpaceX will test components of its methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine on the stand. Participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were (l to r): Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and NASA’s Stennis Space Center Director Rick Gilbrech. (Credit: NASA)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — An April 21 ribbon-cutting ceremony at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., marked the beginning of a new NASA and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) partnership aimed at continuing to propel America’s burgeoning commercial space program forward and enhance utilization of NASA’s advanced test facilities. Several Mississippi leaders joined NASA and SpaceX representatives for the ceremony including Gov. Phil Bryant, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo.

SpaceX signed a Space Act Agreement with the space agency last fall to test components of its methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine on the E-2 Test Stand at Stennis. SpaceX is developing the Raptor as a reusable engine for a heavy-lift launch vehicle.

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More RS-25 Engine Tests Conducted at Stennis

Four RS-25 engines, like the one pictured undergoing a hot-fire test, will power the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) -- NASA's new heavy-lift launch vehicle. (Credit: NASA)
Four RS-25 engines, like the one pictured undergoing a hot-fire test, will power the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) — NASA’s new heavy-lift launch vehicle. (Credit: NASA)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NASA PR) — The RS-25 engine that will power NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), off the launch pad and on journeys to an asteroid and Mars is getting ready for the test stand. And it is packing a big punch.

Engineers at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., are now focusing their attention on preparing the RS-25 engine after completing testing of the J-2X engine April 10. Four RS-25 engines, previously known as space shuttle main engines, will muscle the core stage of SLS for each of its missions. Towering more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet, the core stage will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25s.

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SpaceX to Conduct Raptor Engine Testing in Mississippi

An AJ26 engine on a test stand at NASA Stennis.
An AJ26 engine on a test stand at NASA Stennis.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sen. Cochran PR) – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today said the agreement signed today between the State of Mississippi and the commercial space company SpaceX bodes well for future job growth at and around NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.

Cochran commended the accord which will involve SpaceX investing in the E-2 test stand at Stennis to support engine research, development and testing of the firm’s Raptor methane rocket engines.  The agreement, signed by Governor Phil Bryant, also involved the Mississippi Development Authority, Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission and NASA.

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Preparations Continue for SLS Engine Test at Stennis

A welder at NASA’s Stennis Space Center works on a portion of piping to be installed on the A-1 Test Stand for RS-25 rocket engine testing. (Credit: NASA/SSC)
A welder at NASA’s Stennis Space Center works on a portion of piping to be installed on the A-1 Test Stand for RS-25 rocket engine testing. (Credit: NASA/SSC)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — Think about negotiating an intricate maze, and you begin to appreciate the challenge of designing and fabricating test stand piping for NASA’s RS-25 rocket engine.

NASA is meeting that challenge at its Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., where liquid oxygen (LOX), liquid hydrogen and related piping is being produced for RS-25 engine testing on the A-1 test stand. Testing of the core-stage engine for NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) is scheduled to begin next spring. The SLS is being developed to carry humans deeper into space than ever before.

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AJ26 Engine Acceptance Test Successfully Conducted

A successful acceptance test of the AJ26 engine on Aug. 8, 2013. (Credit: NASA)
A successful acceptance test of the AJ26 engine on Aug. 8, 2013. (Credit: NASA)

Via Orbital Sciences Corporation

On August 8, 2013 Orbital and its Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA teammates successfully conducted a 54 second hot fire acceptance test of an AJ26 engine. The AJ26 used in this test will be one of two engines that will power the first stage of Orbital’s Antares rocket in its second mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) agreement with NASA. The mission, dubbed Orb-2, is scheduled to occur in 2014. The test was conducted at NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Production of Key Equipment Paves Way for NASA SLS RS-25 Testing

Design image shows a RS-25 rocket engine installed on the A-1 Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center. (Credit: NASA/SSC)
Design image shows a RS-25 rocket engine installed on the A-1 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. (Credit: NASA/SSC)

Bay St. Louis, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA plans to begin testing RS-25 engines for its new Space Launch System (SLS) in the fall of 2014, and the agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi has a very big — literally — item to complete on the preparation checklist.

Fabrication recently began at Stennis on a new 7,755-pound thrust frame adapter for the A-1 Test Stand to enable testing of the engines that will provide core-stage power for NASA’s SLS. The stand component is scheduled to be completed and installed by November 2013.

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Apollo-Era Test Stand Being Prepared for SLS Core Stage Testing

Rocket_Test_Stand_1967
A test of the Saturn V first stage, S-1C-5, is conducted on Aug. 25, 1967, at Stennis Space Center. (Credit: NASA/SSC)

Stennis Space Center, MS (NASA PR) — Before NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) flies to space on its inaugural mission in 2017, it will fly in place at the agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The B-2 Test Stand at Stennis, originally built to test Saturn rocket stages that propelled humans to the moon, is being completely renovated to test the SLS core stage in late 2016 and early 2017. The SLS stage, with four RS-25 rocket engines, will be installed on the stand for propellant fill and drain testing and two hot fire tests.

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