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NASA Awards Construction Contract for Rocket Engine Testing

February 19, 2009

NASA signed a contract Thursday with American Tank and Vessel Inc. of Mobile, Ala., for the installation of a test cell diffuser and associated systems in the A-3 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract’s value is not to exceed $45 million.

The A-3 test stand is being built at Stennis to test the J-2X engine for NASA’s Constellation Program. The Constellation Program 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 A-3 test stand will allow engineers to analyze the J-2X engine’s operating parameters by simulating conditions at altitudes up to 100,000 feet. For these simulations, the test stand will generate approximately 4,620 pounds per second of steam and use it to reduce the engine test cell pressure.

Construction began on the A-3 test stand in summer 2007, with the first test scheduled for 2012. The structure is the first large test stand to be built since the south Mississippi site was established in the 1960s.

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