Watch in Awe as NASA’s Next Generation Rocket Scorches the Desert in Its First Test
To infinity... and beyond!
NASA’s work-in-progress Space Launch System is designed to carry heavier payloads than any rocket system in the past to enable crewed deep space missions to the asteroid belt and Mars. It completed its first test fire yesterday in an awe-inspiring display of humanity’s ability to make stuff go boom.
The test was the first of two that will map the 1.6 million pound rocket’s performance at the extremes of the acceptable temperature range for its propellant. This test had the rocket booster warmed to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the next, planned for early 2016, will see how it fares at 40 degrees. These two benchmarks will allow NASA scientists to predict how the rocket will behave throughout its functional temperature range so we can shoot humans off to Mars aboard the Orion spacecraft with as much precision as possible.
The first test successfully fired the rocket for the two minutes it would take to lift off into space and produced 3.6 million pounds of thrust. “The work being done around the country today to build SLS is laying a solid foundation for future exploration missions, and these missions will enable us to pioneer far into the solar system,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, in NASA’s press release. “The teams are doing tremendous work to develop what will be a national asset for human exploration and potential science missions.”
“This test is a significant milestone for SLS and follows years of development,” said Todd May, SLS program manager. “Our partnership with Orbital ATK and more than 500 suppliers across the country is keeping us on the path to building the most powerful rocket in the world.”
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