Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

U.S.-developed main engine ready for Japanese shuttle
Posted: Feb. 20, 2000

Artist's concept of the HOPE-X vehicle in space. Photo: NASDA
Aerojet has successfully completed verification testing of its HOPE-X Orbital Maneuvering Engine (OME), qualifying it for operation as the main propulsion for the Japanese National Space Development Agency's HOPE-X vehicle.

The HOPE-X vehicle is a prototype unmanned shuttle to be launched by Japan's H2A launch vehicle. Aerojet is developing the HOPE-X OME for Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Company, the shuttle's propulsion system contractor.

The reusable HOPE-X OME is a 4,000-pound-force thrust class engine that is pressure-fed, regeneratively cooled and operated with storable propellants. It is much like the space shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System, also designed and built by Aerojet, which has delivered 100 percent mission success on every shuttle flight.

"The HOPE-X engine program represents another successful activity in our continuing long-term relationship with Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Company and the National Space Development Agency of Japan. I congratulate the entire IHI/Aerojet team for completing qualification of the OME in exemplary fashion," said Bob Harris, Aerojet vice president of Propulsion and Armament Systems.

The HOPE-X OME verification program, consisting of 19 engine firings at simulated altitudes above 100,000 feet, met all technical objectives and customer expectations. The firings predominantly were 20 seconds to verify engine operation over a large range of propellant inlet conditions. The testing was concluded with a one-hour mission duty cycle firing and a six-minute duration firing.

The test engine will be refurbished and delivered to the customer as a flight spare in addition to the two new flight engines which are now ready for acceptance testing and delivery later this year.

This test program also marked the successful re-activation and operation of the Aerojet J-4 Altitude Test Facility, which had been unused since 1993. The 19 engine firings were conducted over three weeks from December 1999 to January 2000. During that period as many as three tests per day were achieved with a minimum test crew.

Aerojet, a GenCorp company, is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the space electronics, missile and space propulsion, and smart munitions and armaments markets.

Explore the Net
NASDA - Official site of the Japanese space program.

Aerojet - U.S. company developing the HOPE-X engine.

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