HANCOCK COUNTY — Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne reports it has successfully completed another major subassembly for NASA’s first J-2X rocket engine.
The J-2X fuel turbopump assembly follows the successful assembly of the oxidizer turbopump, which delivers high-pressure liquid oxygen to the main injector. The engine, whose first hot-fire tests are planned for early 2011 at Stennis Space Center, has the characteristics to power the upper-stage of a heavy-lift launch vehicle.
The fuel pump is the heart of the J-2X engine. Much like the human heart pumps blood through the body, the fuel pump distributes liquid hydrogen through the engine at minus 400-degrees Fahrenheit.
The J-2X generates a tremendous amount of energy for what is a relatively small machine. A single first-stage turbine blade, which is less than one-inch tall, can generate about 150 horsepower – or roughly the equivalent to the power of a compact automobile engine.