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Stennis conducts test on rocket engine

HANCOCK COUNTY — NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center conducted a successful test firing Nov. 10 of the liquid-fuel AJ26 engine that will power the first stage of Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Taurus II space launch vehicle.

Orbital and its engine supplier, Aerojet, test-fired the engine on Stennis’ E-1 test stand. The test directly supports NASA’s partnerships to enable commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station.

The initial test, the first in a series of three firings, lasted 10 seconds and served as a short-duration readiness firing to verify AJ26 engine start and shutdown sequences, E-1 test stand operations and ground-test engine controls.

The test was conducted by a joint operations team comprised of Orbital, Aerojet and Stennis engineers, with Stennis employees serving as test conductors. The joint operations team and other NASA engineers will conduct an in-depth data review of all subsystems in preparation for a 50-second hot-fire acceptance test scheduled several weeks from now. A third hot-fire test at Stennis also is planned to verify tuning of engine control valves.

The AJ26 engine is designed to power the Taurus II space vehicle on flights to low Earth orbit. The NASA-Orbital partnership was formed under the agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services joint research and development project. The company is under contract with NASA to provide eight cargo missions to the space station through 2015.


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