Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a United Technologies Corp. company, has completed a series of successful tests on a gas generator for the J-2X rocket engine that will power the nation’s new Ares I and Ares V second-stage launch vehicles.

The vehicles are scheduled to send US astronauts to the International Space Station and back to the moon by 2020.

The gas generator for the J-2X will use the same technology currently used on the proven RS-68, the largest liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen rocket engine developed to power the Delta IV family of expendable launch vehicle.

Tests on the newly designed generator have helped determine the performance and stability of the J-2X configuration, while also helping engineers to finalise the specifications for the unit to be tested on the power-pack and development engines.

“We are using heritage technology with a successful track record of reliability and performance and applying modern technology to create a safer, more efficient product for our customer,” said John Vilja, J-2X Programme Manager for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

The J-2X engine uses legacy technology from both the J-2 and J-2S engines in the design and development of the fuel pump and oxidizer pumps.