Test Fire of Commercial Cargo Rocket Engine

Earlier today, I was at NASA’s Stennis Space Center to watch a test of Aerojet’s AJ26 Engine E9, which will provide first-stage power for Orbtial Sciences’ Antares rockets on their ISS cargo supply missions. Orbital is preparing for an August test flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems program.

A team of NASA, Orbital and Aerojet engineers monitored the hot-fire engine test on the E-1 Test Stand at Stennis. After test data is reviewed and the engine is inspected, it will be shipped to the Wallops Flight Facility launch site in Virginia for installation on the rocket.

NASA is committed to launching from American soil – on spacecraft built by American companies. We’re utilizing the skills of a talented workforce and the facilities – like those at Stennis – that have powered a nation into space for more than 50 years.

Our proposed fiscal year 2013 budget funds this important work and advances our goal of bringing human space launches back to the U.S.

By partnering with multiple companies, NASA will lower the cost of access to space and foster an innovative, American capability to transport supplies and eventually astronauts to low Earth orbit. It makes good sense for our economy and for the space program.

We are on the brink of a milestone moment in NASA space history, part of a long-term strategy that will create good-paying, high-quality jobs here in the United States. Next week, another American space company plans to launch a rocket and space capsule to the International Space Station, becoming the first private-sector firm to ever do so. Working with NASA, several other private American companies are making progress towards providing U.S.-based access to the space station.

Today’s test was the latest example of the progress being made to implement the bi-partisan exploration plan agreed to by the President and Congress – and keep the U.S. the world leader in space.