The first Rocketdyne RS-68
flight engine has completed its flight acceptance hot-fire test series at
NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
The engine was developed by the
Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power business of The Boeing Company for
the first-stage booster of the Boeing Delta IV family of launch vehicles.
Boeing Delta IV is part of the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch
Vehicle (EELV) program.
This test success paves the way toward its use on the
first Delta IV EELV flight in early 2002.

The final test in a series of three was completed on June 23, with all
test objectives met.

To date, the RS-68 program has accumulated more than 16,000 seconds of
test time across the program.

“This is a major milestone in the RS-68 program,” said Rocketdyne Vice
President and General Manager Byron Wood.
“The successful completion of
acceptance testing for the first RS-68 flight engine confirms that this new
powerplant has moved from the drawing board to the production line.
accomplishment is a huge testament to the imagination and hard work of the
people who have brought the RS-68 to reality.”

With the acceptance testing now concluded, the RS-68 flight engine will
undergo final system checks and then be moved to the Delta IV assembly
facility in Decatur, Alabama, where it will be mated with a Delta IV common
booster core.
From there, the vehicle will be shipped to Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station in Florida, where it is expected to be launched in the spring of

“With successful completion of the RS-68 acceptance testing, and the first
flight Delta IV common booster core and upper stage soon to receive final
acceptance, anticipation for first flight is really building up,” said R. Gale
Schluter, vice president and general manager of Boeing Expendable Launch
“I take great pride in our entire Delta IV EELV team in achieving
these industry-first accomplishments.”

Said RS-68 program manager and division director Rick Baily, “The RS-68
team is to be congratulated for reaching this crucial goal.
hundreds of team members have given their best to see this moment arrive.
It’s been the combined effort of designers, builders and test and analysis
people that have finally brought us a new engine that will soon go to work for
America’s space program.”

The RS-68 engine is a liquid hydrogen — liquid oxygen booster engine that
generates 656,000 lbs. of thrust.
It is the first new large, liquid-fueled
rocket engine to enter production in the United States since Rocketdyne
developed the Space Shuttle Main Engine in the late 1970s.