Participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were (l to r): Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and NASA’s Stennis Space Center Director Rick Gilbrech.
Nearly six months after announcing that SpaceX would be testing Raptor engine components at NASA's Stennis Space Center, a ribbon cutting ceremony this past Monday officially unveiled the newly refurbished E-2 test stand.
SpaceX has been working on the Raptor methane-fueled rocket engine since 2009. The new engine, a reusable engine is destined to be used in future versions of the Falcon Heavy and in the long term for the notional SpaceX Mars Colonial Transporter.
Testing is set to begin within the coming days after the E-2 test stand activation is completed a spokesperson for SpaceX confirmed to SpaceRef.
SpaceX will test Raptor injectors and combustion chambers during the initial phase at E-2 Cell 1. According to SpaceX they are still in the very early stages of the Raptor engine development program and this initial test phase will last 12 to 24 months with larger components to be tested afterwards presumably at their rocket engine development facility in McGregor, Texas.
"This is a great partnership between NASA and SpaceX," Stennis Center Director Rick Gilbrech said. "These types of activities are opening new doors of commercial space exploration for companies. SpaceX is another example of the outstanding progress America's commercial space industry is making, and we are happy to welcome them as our newest commercial test customer."
"SpaceX is proud to bring the Raptor testing program to NASA's Stennis Space Center and the great state of Mississippi," said Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX. "In partnership with NASA, SpaceX has helped create one of the most advanced engine testing facilities in the world, and we look forward to putting the stand to good use."
The ribbon cutting ceremony comes just a few days after SpaceX revealed it had completed the first test flight of the Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) at their rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.
Falcon 9 Reusable First Test Flight: