HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. – NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC) has begun testing
components of the RS-84 prototype engine. The RS-84 is a reusable combustion
rocket engine
fueled by rocket propellant – a special blend of kerosene – designed to
power future flight vehicles.
SSC engineers successfully conducted a cold-flow test of the RS-84 subscale
preburner Sept. 24,
when liquid oxygen was blown through the preburner. “The purpose of the
cold-flow test is to
characterize system performance of the facility and the resistance of the
hardware,” said Robert
Ross, RS-84 project manager at SSC.

Engineers are now moving to the next phase of the test project, hot-fire
testing, which is expected
to continue into February 2004. The final RS-84 prototype is expected to
begin full-scale test firing
by the end of 2007.
Final design and fabrication of the prototype engine and component test
articles will be provided
via a December 2003 Request for Proposals (RFP) solicitation, which is open
to all competitors.
NASA will award the Booster Engine Prototype Phase II contract in late 2004.
The effort will
include an option for the design of a flight engine, expected to commence in

SSC is partnered with Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville,
Ala., and Boeing
Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, Calif., for development and testing of the RS-84,
one of two competing
efforts under way as part of NASA’s Rocket Engine Prototype effort, which
seeks to develop lower-
cost, highly reliable engine technologies.
The Rocket Engine Prototype project, managed by NASA’s Next Generation
Launch Technology
(NGLT) program, is a risk-mitigation effort intended to deliver a
large-scale prototype of an
oxygen-rich, staged-combustion engine – one that will enable near-term
development of flight-ready
engines for a next generation reusable booster.

The next competitive contract phase is open to all interested organizations
that can demonstrate
the ability to design and develop a prototype engine meeting NASA’s
requirements. For more
information on this competitive contract, visit

Administered for NASA’s Office of Aerospace Technology by the MSFC, the NGLT
seeks to develop key technologies that will provide the foundation for
America’s future space fleet –
yielding low-cost space access and reinvigorating the U.S. space launch
market to compete with
space agencies and commercial enterprises worldwide. For more information,