Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) is delivering new RS-25 rocket engine hardware from its U.S. facilities to certify its new production process and is getting ready for the next phase of testing. More than a decade after production was discontinued, the engine maker is setting up assembly lines for major engine components at facilities in California and Florida and working towards delivery of six new flight engines for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS).
The parts will be shipped to the AR facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, where the engines are fully assembled in and subsequently test-fired in the nearby, single-engine A-1 Test Stand. The second of four series of development test-firings is scheduled to begin in June on a ground test engine currently being retrofitted with over half of its major components constructed using modern manufacturing methods.
In addition to restocking engines for the expendable SLS Core Stage, a primary goal of the production restart program is to deliver new units of the high-performance engines for less cost while maintaining the reliability of the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) design. While Aerojet Rocketdyne is re-establishing a production line to deliver new engines, they are also supporting the critical, first-time tests of the SLS Core Stage mounted in another test stand at Stennis.