NASA Stennis Testing Future Flight-Engine Components

Press Release From: Stennis Space Center
Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2003

HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. - NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC) has begun testing components of the RS-84 prototype engine. The RS-84 is a reusable combustion rocket engine fueled by rocket propellant - a special blend of kerosene - designed to power future flight vehicles. SSC engineers successfully conducted a cold-flow test of the RS-84 subscale preburner Sept. 24, when liquid oxygen was blown through the preburner. "The purpose of the cold-flow test is to characterize system performance of the facility and the resistance of the hardware," said Robert Ross, RS-84 project manager at SSC.

Engineers are now moving to the next phase of the test project, hot-fire testing, which is expected to continue into February 2004. The final RS-84 prototype is expected to begin full-scale test firing by the end of 2007. Final design and fabrication of the prototype engine and component test articles will be provided via a December 2003 Request for Proposals (RFP) solicitation, which is open to all competitors. NASA will award the Booster Engine Prototype Phase II contract in late 2004. The effort will include an option for the design of a flight engine, expected to commence in 2007.

SSC is partnered with Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala., and Boeing Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, Calif., for development and testing of the RS-84, one of two competing efforts under way as part of NASA's Rocket Engine Prototype effort, which seeks to develop lower- cost, highly reliable engine technologies. The Rocket Engine Prototype project, managed by NASA's Next Generation Launch Technology (NGLT) program, is a risk-mitigation effort intended to deliver a large-scale prototype of an oxygen-rich, staged-combustion engine - one that will enable near-term development of flight-ready engines for a next generation reusable booster.

The next competitive contract phase is open to all interested organizations that can demonstrate the ability to design and develop a prototype engine meeting NASA's requirements. For more information on this competitive contract, visit

Administered for NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology by the MSFC, the NGLT program seeks to develop key technologies that will provide the foundation for America's future space fleet - yielding low-cost space access and reinvigorating the U.S. space launch market to compete with space agencies and commercial enterprises worldwide. For more information, visit

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