A recently developed 1,500-lbf (6,672-N) thrust-class liquid oxygen/liquid methane (LO2/LCH4) rocket engine was tested at both sea level and simulated altitude conditions. Sea-level tests were conducted using both a static horizontal test bed, and a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) test bed capable of liftoff and hover-flight in low atmospheric conditions. The vertical test bed configuration is capable of throttling the engine valves to enable liftoff and hover-flight.

Simulated altitude vacuum testing was conducted, which is capable of providing simulation for altitudes greater than 120,000-feet (≈36.6 km) equivalent. The engine tests demonstrated ignition using two different methods: a gas-torch and a pyrotechnic igniter. Both gas torch and pyrotechnic ignition were demonstrated at both sea level and in vacuum conditions. The rocket engine was designed to be configured with three different nozzle configurations, including a dual-bell nozzle geometry. Dualbell nozzle tests were conducted, and engine performance data was obtained at both ambient pressure and simulated altitude conditions. Dual-bell nozzle performance data was provided over a range of altitude conditions from 90,000 to 50,000 feet (≈27.4 to 15.2 km).

This work was done by Jacob Collins, Eric A. Hurlbert, John Melcher, and Kris A. Romig of Johnson Space Center; and Phil Eaton, Russ Blink, John Carmack, and James Bauer of Armadillo Aerospace Limited PA. MSC-24695-1