World’s most powerful rocket booster headed to Mars completes final test (VIDEO)
The final experiment took place in the Utah desert on Tuesday morning - with NASA allowing the public to watch the proceedings live via the space agency’s webstream.
Some 55 tons of propellant per second were burned by the booster with the goal of producing 3.6 million lb of maximum thrust, equivalent to the power of 14 Boeing 747s at takeoff, according to its manufacturer. In other words, it was one hell of a fire.
A successful test in March heated conditions to +32 degrees Celsius (+90 Fahrenheit), but Tuesday’s two-minute trial used cooler temperatures of +4 degrees Celsius (+40 Fahrenheit) it may encounter on future voyages in the cold reaches of the universe.
The five-segment booster, which is 54 meters (177ft) tall, is designed to give an extra kick to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in history.
It will next be part of SLS’s first test flight into space in 2018, when it takes NASA’s unmanned Orion spacecraft into orbit with 13 research satellites.
NASA aims to launch the second SLS flight with people in five years, saying in a statement that the technology will “achieve human exploration to deep-space destinations, including our journey to Mars.”
Meanwhile, the boys and girls from Space X released an extended video of their attempts to land a rocket-shaped drone on a target in the middle of a swimming pool.