Engineers at NASA have recently tested the engine that will eventually drive the gargantuan Space Launch System (SLS). The space agency has successfully trialed RS-25, as part of a 7.5 minute-long test. with three more to come in the next few months. Currently under developed, the SLS is touted as the most advanced and powerful deep-space rocket NASA has ever worked on.
Four of these engines, according to the developers, will be used to send humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s. Amazingly, the RS-25 is based on a technology that has been around since the 1980s. Speaking about the multi-billion-dollar project, Rick Mastracchio, a astronaut at NASA, said:
SLS is going to be the most powerful rocket ever built when it’s done several years from now. It’s going to have to throw up all this hardware into low Earth orbit so we can then take it to the Moon and beyond, all the way to Mars.
Conceived by experts at Aerojet Rocketdyne, the engine was originally used to propel space shuttles, as part of nearly 135 missions to different parts of low-Earth orbit (LEO) between the early 1980s to around 2011. To power something as massive as the Space Launch System, the developers are planning to combine four of these engines.
The setup will also feature two, incredibly robust five-segment boosters, which coupled with the main engines will provide over 75-percent of the total thrust required for the SLS to escape our planet’s gravitational pull. Lasting less than 2 minutes, the flight will consume nearly 5 tons of propellant each second, with the two 17-story-high boosters producing more than 3.6 million pounds (approx. 1.6 million kilogram) of thrust.
In case you are wondering, the Space Launch System will boast a height greater than the Statue of Liberty. Given its impressive features, it’s no surprise that the SLS will be able carry payload two times heavier than any other space shuttle existing today. Once completed, the system will launch the Orion spacecraft, together with its four-person crew, towards the Red Planet sometime during the 2030s. Before that can happen, however, the Orion has to complete an unmanned test flight two years from now.