Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced the successful test firing of the liquid fuel AJ26 engine that will power the first stage of the company’s Taurus ® II space launch vehicle. In a test conducted yesterday at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, Orbital and its engine supplier Aerojet, a unit of GenCorp (NYSE: GY), test fired an AJ26 engine at the E-1 test stand. The E-1 test stand was refurbished by Stennis over the past year specifically for Orbital’s Taurus II program. The AJ26 test firings at Stennis are being conducted to verify the upgrades made by Orbital and Aerojet to the baseline NK-33 engine and overall engine performance in its final flight configuration.
Orbital Successfully Test Fires First Stage Rocket Engine for Taurus II Rocket at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on November 10, 2010. (Photo: Orbital Sciences Corporation)
This 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 operation, and ground test engine controls. Preliminary data review indicated that all test objectives were met. The test was conducted using a joint operations team comprised of Orbital, Aerojet and Stennis engineers, with Stennis personnel acting in the role of test conductor. The joint operations team, in conjunction with other NASA engineers, will conduct an in-depth data review of all subsystems in preparation for the upcoming 50-second hot-fire acceptance test to be performed in several weeks. A third hot-fire test at Stennis is also planned for the first engine to verify tuning of engine control valves.