The RL60 next generation cryogenic upper-stage rocket engine has achieved another set of milestones, as all major components have been independently tested and delivered to the assembly floor at Pratt & Whitney (P&W). The combustion chamber, injector and nozzle are also now in their final stages of assembly.

The RL60 demonstrator program continues to impressively move forward in its preparation for full-scale development. A combustion rig test is scheduled for late July, while the demonstrator engine begins its final assembly. The engine will be moved to the test stand in September for a series of tests culminating in a demonstration of full power at simulated flight conditions. Both of these critical test activities will take place at P&W’s West Palm Beach, Fla. facility in the U.S.

“The technology that the RL60 incorporates allows for a robust, dependable engine that is flexible enough to support a range of commercial or government missions,” P&W Space Propulsion and Russian Operations President Larry Knauer said. “The RL60’s combustion chamber, which is the first copper tube chamber in the aerospace industry, provides the energy needed to drive the expander cycle at this higher-thrust level.”

The RL60 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine will be capable of meeting vehicle needs ranging from 40,000 to 60,000 pounds of thrust with a specific impulse of 465 seconds. While the engine occupies the same space as P&W’s RL10B-2, which is the highest-performing cryogenic upper-stage engine currently in use, it will produce up to twice the thrust.

Several international partners have supported RL60 development. These include CADB of Russia (LOX Turbopump), Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries of Japan (Fuel Turbopump), Techspace Aero of Belgium (Fuel Inlet and LOX control valve) and Volvo Aero of Sweden (Regen cooled nozzle).

“We are very committed to seeing this program flourish,” Knauer added, “and are taking the appropriate steps to ensure the program’s success.”

P&W is refurbishing its E-8 rocket test stand on its West Palm Beach campus. Upgrades are expected to be completed later this month and will include unmatched capabilities such as a state-of-the-art control room that allows for testing in a simulated vacuum environment, operating at up to 500,000 pounds of thrust, and simulating an altitude of more than 80,000 feet. In the past, the stand has been used to test Space Shuttle Main Engine turbopump components, the first Russian rocket engine to be tested in the U.S. and P&W’s RL10, the industry’s most dependable upper-stage engine that has nearly 40 years of flight.

P&W Space Propulsion, a leader in liquid, solid, electric and hypersonic propulsion, has sites located at West Palm Beach, Fla. and San Jose, Calif., United States. P&W’s web site address is P&W, a United Technologies company (NYSE: UTX), is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines.