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If you've ever been in the shower when somebody started the dishwasher or flushed the toilet, you'll understand the spacecraft testing planned for Cleveland's NASA Glenn Research Center.

A sudden water pressure drop is irritating when you have soap in your eyes. But if the plumbing in question is part of a rocket engine, and you're an astronaut who needs to get somewhere in a hurry -- to a higher orbit, say, or on the proper return trajectory to Earth -- a fuel flow problem can be a critical, even life-threatening, event.

So in a research lab on the Glenn campus, engineers have rigged a scaled-down, simplified version of the propulsion system planned for NASA's new Orion spacecraft. They're readying for a series of important tests this summer to ensure that when Orion's engines fire, they will produce the necessary, expected amounts of thrust.

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