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All systems are go for ‘The Joe’ to display rocket engine

HUNTSVILLEIt may be the final countdown for the Huntsville City FC regular season, but a relic from the city’s space history will help launch the club’s playoff hopes.

A J-2X rocket engine will greet fans entering Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium. It will be the the only NASA rocket engine test article of its kind on long-term display at a professional sports venue.

The engine will be unveiled Sunday at noon, ahead of Huntsville City Football Club’s final home match of the regular season. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, officials from the Marshall Space Flight Center, MLS NEXT Pro President Charles Altchek, and officials from Huntsville City FC will all help reveal the engine.

(Huntsville City Football Club/Contributed, 256 Today)

The club hosts Chicago Fire FC II at 1 p.m. on MLS NEXT Pro’s Decision Day. Tickets for the match and this special event can be purchased here.

“Being known as the Rocket City, nothing encapsulates Huntsville like space exploration, and we are thrilled to partner with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to bring a uniquely Huntsville piece of history to Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium,” said Chad Emerson, managing director of Business Operations for Huntsville City FC. “No other stadium in the United States is displaying something quite like the J-2X NASA rocket engine.

“The engine will be a focal point for anyone who comes to a Huntsville City FC match, high school football game, or any other kind of event at the Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium.”

The engine’s namesake comes from its predecessor, the J-2 engine of the Apollo era, used on Saturn V rockets, which carried the first humans to the moon. The J-2X was scheduled for use on the Ares rockets of the cancelled Constellation program, and later the Space Launch System. The engine design leveraged 50 years of experience in human spaceflight with state-of-the-art technology in design processes, materials, and manufacturing to enable further human exploration of space.

The development and testing of the J-2X helped usher in major manufacturing improvements, including 3-D printing of complex rocket engine components and the development of new materials.

The J-2X is a liquid-oxygen/liquid-hydrogen fueled engine that produces nearly 300,000 pounds of thrust. The engine was designed and built by Aerojet Rocketdyne (formerly Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne).

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