NASA just fired up a booster for the most powerful rocket in the world! (Until Tuesday, the most powerful rocket in history was the Saturn V used in the Apollo program.) Take a look:
Why? Well, beyond this endeavor being seriously cool (IMO), NASA is testing what will become part of the Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS will be used to launch Orion spacecraft on deep-space missions, including the scheduled trip to Mars.
And so on Tuesday, June 28, NASA experienced the sound and feel of approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust. A huge milestone which proves that NASA’s research is advancing human exploration, and pushing the boundaries for science and technology missions in deep space.
NASA fired off the booster on Tuesday at Orbital ATK‘s test facilities in Promontory, Utah, allowing NASA engineers to gather data on 82 qualification objectives.
For deep space missions, the SLS will be powered by two five-segment boosters and four RS-25 main engines. The first SLS configuration will have a lift capability of 70 metric tons and 10 percent more thrust than Saturn V. The second stage will have a lift capacity of 105 metric tons and 20 percent more thrust. Plus, the second configuration would have the horsepower equivalent to 208,000 Corvette engines, or 17,400 locomotive engines.
Hardware for the SLS is currently in production for the rocket, and NASA is also working diligently on Orion and the ground systems to support a launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. As of now, they’re on track to launch the SLS on its first flight test with Orion, paving the way for humans in deep space. The first mission using the SLS will be unmanned, to scope things out, and is scheduled for launch in 2018. After more research and further progress, several years later a crewed mission will follow.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense