Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has completed the full-mission duration hot-fire test on a launch abort engine (LAE) for Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft in the California desert.
The CST-100 spacecraft which is being developed under NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) programme, designed to transport people to the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit destinations.
Terry Lorier, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne's Commercial Crew Development program manager, said: "The engine achieved full thrust on the 40,000-pound thrust-class engine while validating key operating conditions during engine start-up and shut down."
Lorier added: "The tests provided key thermal and analytical data."
Its service module and integrated launch abort propulsion system is a vital system for safe, reliable and affordable commercial crew transportation.
The service module is designed to drive the crew capsule to safety if an abort is required, if unused for an abort, the same propellant load can be utilised for other parts of the mission, comprising re-boosting the space station orbit.
Lorier said: "We are well on our way to providing an important propulsion system for safe, reliable human spaceflight."
He continued: "The propulsion system's recently-completed preliminary design review demonstrated our design approach meets all requirements and it confirmed we are ready to proceed with the detailed design."
Boeing is moving ahead with the design of the CST-100 in Phase 2 of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCDev-2).
CCDev-2 depends on the propulsion system design and rapid hot-fire Bantam demonstration engine tests conducted during the first round of CCDev, and will allow Boeing to cut key component risks and enhance its system through early design reviews.
After the development, Boeing will commence operations with test flights to ensure that the system is capable of transporting people to the International Space Station and other low Earth orbit destinations, which include Bigelow Aerospace's planned Orbital Space Complex.
Under the contract with Boeing, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is providing Attitude Control Propulsion System thrusters from heritage programmes, a low-cost Bantam engine design, and its storable propellant engineering capabilities.
Image: The CST-100 spacecraft can carry a crew of seven to International Space Station and the Bigelow Aerospace Orbital Space Complex. Photo: Boeing image