NASA Testing Out Its Huge Mars Rocket

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The world’s most powerful rocket passed its second test-firing on the ground this Tuesday and is now ready for its first official test launch from Florida.

A booster for NASA’s Space Launch System fired for two minutes lying on its side at NASA contractor Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah.

“This final qualification test of the booster system shows real progress in the development of the Space Launch System,” NASA’s William Gerstenmaier said in a release following the test. “Seeing this test today, and experiencing the sound and feel of approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust, helps us appreciate the progress we’re making to advance human exploration and open new frontiers for science and technology missions in deep space.”

Next, the Space Launch System — including two of the boosters tested Tuesday and four main engines — will launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a test flight in 2018. NASA hopes the SLS will eventually transport humans to Mars in the coming decades.



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