MSFC engineers conduct hot-fires of Ares V engine hardware

by Chris Bergin

Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) engineers are close to completing a two month-long series of hot-fire tests on subscale main injector hardware, which is part of the development of the RS-68 main engine.

Five RS-68s will be used to power the first stage of the giant Ares V, set to join NASA’s fleet in the latter part of the next decade, as part of the return to the moon and on to Mars.
Huge amounts of VSE related insider news and presentations – THE most comprehensive place to follow Ares/Orion development – are available for download on L2. See list at the end of this article.


**ARES V / Mars Transport Vehicle (MTV) LIVE UPDATE PAGES**

The tests were conducted between March 9 and March 14 on the East Test Stand at MSFC. More tests may be conducted on different injector designs, which is a key engine component.

‘This first series of tests was performed on a subscale injector that contained 40 individual elements for propellant flow,’ noted information in the center’s Marshall Star. ‘During the tests, engineers fired the injector horizontally for durations of 10 to 20 seconds.

The component is used to inject and mix hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants in the combustion chamber on the RS-68 – which is an upgraded version the Delta IV engine – where they are ignited and burned to produce thrust.

‘Engineers are also conducting a second series of tests, on a subscale main injector containing 58 elements,’ added MSFC. ‘Those tests began March 16 and will continue through the end of the month.

‘The hot-fire tests of the injector hardware and the number of elements are part of efforts to investigate design options and maximize performance of the RS-68 engine.’

Engineers will also use the data from the tests in the development of the J-2X engine, which will power the Upper Stage of the Ares I vehicle.

These tests, according to MSFC, are part of a two-month series begun in late January, were conducted by a joint center team including members of Marshall’s Exploration Launch Projects Office, Engineering Directorate and Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate.

In other news, Pilot Parachute Drop Tests for Ares I will resume at the end of June, with a repeat of the test that ended in failure at the start of the year.

‘The Pilot Drop Test #3 (PDT #3) failure investigation final report was released last week and a formal briefing was presented this week to the First Stage Element management and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) engineering,’ noted Constellation memos.

‘The First Stage team has reached an agreement on the final design details for the replacement Drop Test Vehicle (DTV) as well as the target dynamic pressure for the repeat test. Electronic initiated pyrotechnic cutters will be incorporated and the cutters will be operated by an onboard electronic timer/sequencer unit, for controlling all timed cutaway events for future drop tests.

‘The First Stage Element will conduct a comprehensive Test Configuration Review (TCR) in May with the Pilot Parachute Drop Test Repeat (PDT #3R) scheduled for the week of June 25 at the Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG).’

Also, next week, Boeing will announce who they have partnered with, as they bid for the Ares I Upper Stage contract. They’ll be up against Lockheed Martin, ATK and Pratt & Whitney. 

L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: DAC-1C DDD Vast Slides on Vehicle Design. ATK First Stage Presentation. 39B Lightning Towers Slides.
DAC-1C Departure points to DAC-2 Upper Stage Graphcs (Many Changes). Orion/CEV Display Layout Presentation (40 pages) – Feb 5. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV – Feb 2. Weather Shield (Rain Shield) for Orion on the pad – Feb 1. New Super hi-res images of Ares I – Feb 1. ATK Cutaway graphics of Ares I – perspective and axonometric – Feb 1. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. CEV Paracute Assembly System (CPAS) Presentation.

Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) overview presentation – Jan 16. Major changes to Ares I Upper Stage – expansive details and data. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. Saturn Twang Test Video for use with Ares I-1R. CLV Umbilical Trade Matrix XLS.

Vehicle interfaces for the DAC 1C version of Orion Ares – Jan 3. Ares I-1R Test Flight Plan (full outline) Presentation. Ares I-1 timeline and modification expanded info. Ares I troubleshooting latest. Ares I Reference Trajectory. Boeing’s STS to Ares – Lessons Learned Presentation. Latest Ares I and Ares V baseline Configuration image and data. CLV DAC-1C (Changes to CLV Upper Stage).

Ares I-1: Four Seg+Dummy ‘Tuna Can’ stage. Ascent Developmental Flight Test Presentation. CLV Pad 39B Handover Info and Latest. New images of CLV on top of new MLP and LUT. Lockheed Martin CEV/Orion Updates. Constellation news updates. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV.

90 Minute Video of Constellation all hands meeting. CLV TIM Meeting Information. CLV/CaLV Infrastructure, Timelines and Information. Escape System Trade Study Presentation.

CEV-CLV Design Analysis Cycle Review (DAC-2) Presentation. Constellation SRR updates. CLV Stick – Troubleshooting/Alternatives/Updates. New CEV Images (include abort mode). Flight Design and Dynamics Division CEV update. CLV Mono-propellant RCS system. CEV pressurisation system review. CLV/CEV Configuration Images. The 2×3 Seg SRB Crew Launch Vehicle Option Presentation…plus more.

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