Qualification test firings of the unique engines designed to propel America’s X-33 space plane into high-speed, suborbital flight in 2003 began Tuesday, Feb. 6
at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center. The ignition test successfully completed the full scheduled duration of 1.12 seconds. Initial tandem test firings of the XRS-2200 Linear Aerospike engines will be short bursts such as this,eventually leading to durations required to send the unpiloted vehicle from a launch pad in California to landings in either Utah or Montana. The engines will power the X-33, a half-scale, sub-orbital flight demonstrator of technology required for a reusable launch vehicle."Initial indications are all test objectives were met in this first test of the flight engines," said Mike McKeon, program manager for the XRS-2200 aerospike engine at the Rocketdyne Propulsion& Power business of The Boeing Company.  "We are now reviewing the data and preparing to move
into longer duration testing." "I’m excited about beginning this phase of testing," said Dr. Don Chenevert, NASA’s X-33 project manager at Stennis. "I’m confident the remainder of dual-engine testing will perform as well as this initial ignition test." Eight more test firings of the twin flight engines are planned at Stennis before they are delivered to Lockheed Martin’s X-33 assembly facility in Palmdale, Calif. Fourteen single-engine test firings of a development configuration of the unique Aerospike engine were successfully completed at Stennis Space Center in May 2000. Boeing Rocketdyne developed the XRS-2200 Linear Aerospike engine at its Canoga Park, Calif., facility.  The NASA/Boeing Rocketdyne team at Stennis Space Center did final engine assembly. The X-33 project is being developed under a cooperative agreement between NASA and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Denver, Colo. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the X-33 program for NASA.