SpaceX to test methane rocket engine in Mississippi

djournal-state-news-mississippiBAY ST. LOUIS (AP) — Private space exploration firm SpaceX will test a methane fueled rocket engine at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.

State and federal officials made the announcement Wednesday.

Mississippi will spend $500,000 and NASA will spend $600,000 to help upgrade a rocket test stand so it can use methane to fuel SpaceX’s Raptor engine.

SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., is supposed to begin testing in 2014

Mississippi Development Authority spokesman Jeff Rent says the testing could support a handful of jobs, but is important because it could make Stennis more attractive to other private users. The facility will be owned by NASA.

Rolls Royce Group PLC recently opened a $50 million facility to test jet airplane engines at Stennis, with plans to hire up to 35 people.