Nasa is considering the incorporation of a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) J-2X engine for the upper stage of the follow-on Ares I-Y suborbital test.

Ares I-Y is the second of the three development test flights that will enable Nasa to streamline the design of the Ares launch vehicles under the Constellation programme, according to Aviation Week.

Nasa Constellation programme manager Jeff Hanley said that Ares I-Y was scoped to be another suborbital flight demonstration with a five-segment first stage and a high-altitude launch abort after separation.

“But we are studying putting an engine on that flight, and we continue to evaluate that to see if we could put an engine in that upper stage and start it at altitude,” he said.

Currently, the gas generator of the J-2X engine for the upper stages of the Ares I and V launch vehicles is being tested by PWR and the first full-engine system test will be performed in mid 2011, after passing the critical design review.

The liquid oxygen / liquid hydrogen-powered J-2X will provide 294,000lb of thrust to power the Ares vehicles compared with the 230,000lb of the original J-2 and larger than it predecessor at 16ft of height.

The Ares I-Y test flight is scheduled for March 2014.

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