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In-Space Propulsion Facility

NASA’s In-Space Propulsion Facility (ISP) is the world’s only facility capable of testing full-scale upper-stage launch vehicles and rocket engines under simulated high-altitude conditions.

Facility Overview

NASA’s In-Space Propulsion Facility (ISP) is the world’s only facility capable of testing full-scale upper-stage launch vehicles and rocket engines under simulated space conditions and also conducting altitude hot fire. The engine or vehicle can be exposed for indefinite periods to low ambient pressures, low-background temperatures, and dynamic solar heating, simulating the environment the hardware will encounter during orbital or interplanetary travel.

Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar Flares Test Hardware
Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar Flares (GRIPS) Test Hardware.

Vehicle engines producing up to 400,000-lb of thrust can be fired for either single or multiple burn missions, utilizing either cryogenic or storable fuels or oxidizers. Engine exhaust conditions can be controlled to simulate a launch ascent profile. In addition, conditions can be maintained before, during, and after the test firing. ISP offers a complete “test-as-you-fly” environment to thoroughly ground test flight hardware and reduce the likelihood of costly flight failures. In 1998, tests of the Boeing Delta III cryogenic upper stage were successfully conducted in the ISP facility.

During a typical test program, the test article is installed within the ISP vacuum chamber and the necessary electrical power, fuel, oxidizer, and purge gas connections are made. The low-pressure, temperature-controlled flight environment is established to thermally condition the hardware and propellants prior to engine firing.

A Programmable Logic Controller conducts all events of the engine test firing from the start of the water deluge system until the completion of the engine test firing and facility shutdown. An abort system provides monitoring through the test period of both facility and test parameters. Test-firing periods extending up to 600 sec (10 minutes) can be accommodated. Multiple test firings and thermal conditioning periods can be conducted to fully simulate the actual flight scenario.

Quick Facts

NASA’s In-Space Propulsion Facility is the world’s only high altitude test facility capable of full-scale rocket engine and launch vehicle system level tests. The facility supports mission profile thermal vacuum simulation and engine firing. The engine or vehicle can be exposed for indefinite periods to low ambient pressures, low-background temperatures, and dynamic solar heating, simulating the environment the hardware will encounter during orbital or interplanetary travel.

Name In-Space Propulsion Facility
Vacuum Chamber 38 ft diameter by 62 ft tall
Test Volume 33 ft diameter by 55 ft tall
Vacuum Range Ambient to 5 x 10-7 Torr for space simulation, 100,000 ft for altitude propulsion testing
Thrust Capability 400,000 lbf maximum, 100,000 lbf nominal
Facility Manager Gerald.M.Hill@nasa.gov

Capabilities

Vacuum Chamber

Test Volume

Vacuum Range

Thrust Capability

Thermal Conditioning

Chamber Access

Spray Chamber

Supply Systems

Altitude Exhaust Systems

Test Control

Contact

In-Space Propulsion Facility
Facility Manager: Gerald Hill
6100 Columbus Ave., MS 5411:105
Sandusky, OH 44870
419-621-3235
Gerald.M.Hill@nasa.gov

Plum Brook Station
Deputy Director: David Taylor
6100 Columbus Ave., MS 7141:112
Sandusky, OH 44870
419-621-2101
David.E.Taylor@nasa.gov

If you are unsure about whom to contact about a specific facility question, please call our main number at 216-433-4000.

Using Our Facilities

NASA’s Glenn Research Center provides ground test facilities to industry, government, and academia. If you are considering testing in one of our facilities or would like further information about a specific facility or capability, please let us know.

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