February 23, 2009

NASA awards rocket-testing contract

The U.S. space agency says it has signed a contract with American Tank and Vessel Inc. of Mobile, Ala., for a rocket engine test stand.

The installation of a test cell diffuser and associated systems in the A-3 test stand will be made at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Officials said the five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract's value isn't to exceed $45 million.

The facility will test the J-2X engine for NASA's Constellation Program, which is developing next-generation spacecraft systems to send astronauts to the International Space Station, the moon, Mars and destinations beyond.

The J-2X engine will power the upper stage of the Ares I crew exploration vehicle and the Earth departure stage of the Ares V cargo launch vehicle. The first test is scheduled for 2012.