Video: NASA’s J-2X Powerpack test lights up night sky

NASA engineers have conducted an initial test of the J-2X engine powerpack at the Stennis Space Center.

The successful test effectively kicks off a series of key trials in development of the rocket engine that will eventually carry humans deeper into space than ever before. 

According to NASA, the test is only the first of about a dozen that will be conducted throughout the year at Stennis, as it was designed to ensure if powerpack and facility control systems were functioning properly.

It also marked the first step in establishing start sequencing for future trials, and was the first time cryogenic fuels were introduced into the powerpack in preparation for full power, longer duration testing.

The J-2X engine is the first human-rated liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen rocket engine to be developed in 40 years. It is slated to provide upper-stage power for NASA’s Space Launch System, a new heavy-lift vehicle capable of missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

Essentially, the powerpack can be described as a system of components on the top portion of the J-2X engine, including the gas generator, oxygen and fuel turbopumps, and related ducts and valves. On the full J-2X engine, the powerpack system feeds the thrust chamber system which produces engine thrust.