Sept. 2 (UPI) — Engineers successfully performed a test fire of the Space Launch System rocket’s full-scale booster on Wednesday afternoon.
Live footage of the test, which took place at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Promontory, Utah, showcased the tremendous force generated by the system’s rockets.
The broadcast showcased a massive trail of fire and exhaust emanating from the base of the rocket and blowing across the desert dunes, scorching the sage brush in its path. The rocket fired for two minutes, with the booster performing nominally.
NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System is key to the space agency’s plans to return astronauts to the moon and ultimately conduct a human mission to Mars, the agency has said.
Engineers at NASA and Boeing have previously conducted a number of test firings in preparation for the Artemis moon landing program.
Data gathered during Wednesday’s test will offer engineers the opportunity to evaluate a variety of new materials, processes and improvements for the boosters that will power longer deep space missions.
“The test also will provide another opportunity to evaluate motor manufacturing and performance,” according to NASA.
The Space Launch System is powered by four RS-25 engines and two boosters, a combination capable of generating 8 million pounds of thrust. The two five-segment rocket boosters will be responsible for 75 percent of thrust during the first few minutes of the Space Launch System’s ascent.
The SLS rocket is one of several vehicles, in addition to the Orion spacecraft, Gateway and human landing system, that will power NASA’s deep space mission.
“The Artemis program is the next step in human space exploration and is part of America’s broader Moon to Mars exploration approach, in which astronauts will explore the Moon,” according to NASA. “Experience gained there will enable humanity’s next giant leap: sending humans to Mars.”
World news – US – Engineers test Space Launch System rocket booster in Utah