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NASA Space Science

NASA Successfully Test Fires J-2X Engine. 119

tetrahedrassface writes "NASA successfully test fired the J-2X engine Wednesday for 500 seconds at Stennis Space Center. The J2-X is derived from the J2 engine from the Apollo Era, and will power the upper stage of the SLS. From the article: 'We have 500 seconds of good data, and the first look is that everything went great. The J-2X engine team and the SLS program as a whole are extremely happy that we accomplished a good, safe and successful test today,' said Mike Kynard, Space Launch System Engines Element Manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. 'This engine test firing gives us critical data to move forward in the engine's development.'"

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NASA Successfully Test Fires J-2X Engine.

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:11PM (#38008356)

    so they rebuilt 1960's technology and it lets find those old engineers who designed stuff that actually worked and pat them on the back.

  • 1960's technology (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deecha ( 410960 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:18PM (#38008402)

    With some improvement... nothing much original ...

  • by AsmCoder8088 ( 745645 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:20PM (#38008408)
    Yeah, well, give them 1960's funding and then they might actually be able to improve upon it...
  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:21PM (#38008418)

    Ah, looks like I was thinking of the J-2S, which was apparently also called J-2X early in its development.

  • by washort ( 6555 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @11:36PM (#38008472) Homepage
    That also describes Linux, FWIW. ;-)
  • by Burdell ( 228580 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @12:11AM (#38008620)

    I bet you still drive a car with a four-cycle engine, which is 19th century technology. Your car has some improvements, but nothing much original.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @12:14AM (#38008630)
    Well, the 747 first flew in 1969 and it still looks the same today. Some things don't change because they can't, they're already pretty much at the limit of what's possible. Too often people think that because we've gotten better at storing and flipping bits, which requires almost no energy at all, that this means everything else has gotten better too.

    So much for the space commute to the orbital ball bearing factory and the weekends on Mars, eh?

  • by inhuman_4 ( 1294516 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @12:16AM (#38008636)

    Hasn't the general consensus been that Russian approach of having numerous cheap launchers better than one big powerful one? Why is money still being wasted on designing a huge launcher that won't be ready for years? Can't NASA just man rate some existing Delta or Atlas launchers, or give SpaceX a little more cash?

  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @12:21AM (#38008660) Homepage Journal
    If the planet weren't busy with squabbling with each other and getting fat with short-term greed, we'd have at least a habitable station on the moon by now.
  • by kermidge ( 2221646 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:12AM (#38009194) Journal


    Seems to me that in engineering form tends to follow function. There's only so many practical ways to design an airplane, for instance: tube, wing, or blend; add propulsion, fuel tanks, controls. Then improve materials, fab methods, and play with it - a practical flying wing needed improved controls not available in the early 1900s, for example. []

    As for the deprecating discussion of the J-2X above, [] seems a reasonable place to start.

    As to why we went to Luna and quit [downpage], well, that's been lived through, written about, and discussed up the yin-yang. Seems to me it was largely lack of interest and failure of will abetted by the distractions of a bunch of stuff on the front burner. Looking at the past coupla thousand years I get the impression that in the collective, humanity tends to be short-sighted and rather petty. Ditto for many of its members. Which is why, when we do neat things like invent computers, printing press, microwave ovens, nail clippers, and soap, and remove the scourge of polio, smallpox, and such, I applaud and try not to think overmuch about all the things we're _not_ doing. Yeah, I try; not saying it works.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:29AM (#38009288)

    So they don't just mix the hydrogen and oxygen in the combustion chamber and light the bitch? They somehow force outside ambient air in there too?

    The air doesn't have to be forced in because the flame is forcing itself out.

    You idiot. No, I don't say that because I think you are stupid. I don't think you are stupid. I think you could have figured this out on your own. Your objection was absurd and that's your cue that you were looking at it incorrectly. There was only one other way to look at it. This is trivial search space of exactly 2 items. How much easier does it have to be, you one-track minded simpleton?

    It's a shame schools teach people what to think but not how to think.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @04:28AM (#38009956) Homepage Journal
    Reaction from the Mars Society:

    The Space Launch System HLV (Heavy Lift Vehicle) as currently designed is fine. However, NASA's human spaceflight program needs a mission.

    NASA's proposed SLS-HLV budget of $3 billion per year is much higher than is actually needed to fund an HLV, and appears to be an effort to spend the former Shuttle program funds for political purposes.

    NASA needs a deep space mission. From the mission comes the plan; from the plan comes the things necessary for its implementation. NASA needs to fund missions, not things. The mission comes first.

    This is exactly right. Apollo was successful because it started with a goal, to land a man on the moon. Kennedy didn't say "Let's build a big Saturn V booster and see what we can do with it later". If he had, it would've almost certainly led to program cancellation later by a Congress asking "What the hell are we spending all this money for?"

    The SLS program as it stands now is guaranteed to be cancelled. (but not before many billions are funneled to the well-connected)

    NASA today is not the young NASA of the 60's. It's become a bloated bureaucracy.

    Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

    In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

    Burt Rutan:

    NASA's become a jobs program.

  • In terms of aviation, there have been substantial improvements in many related technologies that can be applied to commercial aircraft since the original 747 made its first test flight. Indeed the 747 itself has changed many times and what is coming off the production line today in some ways doesn't even resemble the aircraft that was originally produced.

    To pull this argument completely to pieces, Boeing even has plans to replace the 747 [] due to some of the changes in aviation technology that essentially require a complete clean-sheet redesign of the aircraft. There have been improvements in the technology, and sometimes when you have a wide swath of technological improvements it can be a good time to look at something new.

    This said, as was the case for the 747 and the original J-2 engine, what is being expected out of these devices is precisely what was wanted when they were original built in the 1960's. It shouldn't be surprising that something very similar is able to perform the very same task. I use a toaster to warm my bread with a device that looks very similar to what my grandmother had when I was a little child.

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @08:57AM (#38011210)
    You are labouring under the mistaken belief that the Space Race was not just thinly veiled ICBM R&D.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @10:37AM (#38012056)

    I doubt it. I'd expect the Star Trek TNG episode "Relic" would be nearly a documentary on this sort of thing. Old-school engineers worked in a different environment with simpler machines and tools. You'd get a few cases where modern engineers are less willing to push the envelope than the old-school engineers, and a lot of cases where the old school engineer is just in the way, and his "let me tinker with it" attitude causes problems for the complex highly automated modern systems.

    I say this having grown up in a family of engineers including aerospace (Grandfather worked for Burrows and GE, Uncle works for Lockheed Martin, both parents and most uncles/aunts are engineers in various fields).

    The simple (possibly sad) fact is that modern engineering like modern manufacturing is a lot more modular and automated, much larger scale, and way easier to frack up if someone decides to "screw the rules I'm gonna do it my way". The guy designing module A can't make changes in module C to make his module work better because he has no idea what those changes might do to module B, and the complexity of the entire A+B+C system is sufficient that one person isn't going to be able to fully understand all the details of it.

  • by taiwanjohn ( 103839 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @11:37AM (#38012760)

    to bring the project in significantly under budget, then yes, the thing might actually fly someday. Otherwise, it's just another waste of money. In the last 10 years, SpaceX has built up an entire booster family (and attendant infrastructure) for less money than SLS is projected to cost per launch .

    In a few more years, when SpaceX is flying astronauts to the ISS, and has an even bigger booster than SLS on the drawing board, then SLS will finally die a long overdue death. It's a shame to waste all that money, but when Congress is owned by corporate interests there's no easy way around that.

  • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @12:04PM (#38013108) Journal

    Bring forward through time those same engineers with all of today's advancements and they'll stomp all over today's talent.

    Bullshit. Give any group of talented engineers a sense of motivation, a nearly unlimited budget, and clear, specific goals, and they can do wonders.

    The Manhattan project reached approximately 1% of all federal spending in its peak year. It had one aim: build an atom bomb. It had one main motivation: keep the bad guys (who had launched a sneak attack on us already) from taking over the world.

    The Apollo program touched a massive 2.2% of all federal outlays in its peak year. It had three specifications: Man, Moon, Decade. It had one main motivation: keep the bad guys (who had put a satellite in orbit, and a man in space, first) from taking over the world. (Figuratively or literally, depending on your personal level of paranoia.)

    NASA today sees about 0.6% of the federal budget: a proportion which has been shrinking steadily since the early 1990s. That funding is divided across a large number of programs and priorities. Not only do they not have clearly stated goals to guide them, they lack the funding to even maintain continuity in the programs (both scientific and engineering) which already exist.

    Today's NASA has some superb engineers that I would readily stack up against those from any era in the agency's history. What NASA lacks is funding and leadership. The problem is political, not technical.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak