NASA has taken a major step in its quest towards deep space exploration after successfully testing the most powerful rocket ever made.
The booster for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket was fired up for a two minute test at the Orbital ATK test facility in Utah last week.
The two minute test duration is the same amount of time it would take to fire the SLS off the launch pad for a flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre.
The most powerful rocket booster ever produced by the space agency produced about 3.6 million pounds of thrust. By comparison, the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, which powers the F-35 fighter jet, produces a maximum of about 43,000 pounds of thrust.
The recent test at Utah is in preparation for future missions to help propel the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft to deep space destinations such as Mars.
NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, William Gerstenmaier, said the recent test on its most powerful rocket ever and the work done to prepare SLS was laying the platform for future deep space missions.
“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,” he said.
“The teams are doing tremendous work to develop what will be a national asset for human exploration and potential science missions.”
The next test will see the rocket booster cooled down to the bottom end of the range and then fired, which NASA hopes to do in early 2016.
If next year’s test is successful, NASA will send the booster to the Kennedy Space Station where it will be ready to launch for future deep space missions.