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NASA successfully tests the Space Launch System, the world’s most powerful rocket

The trial was a key step in NASA’s mission to send astronauts back to the moon

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In this image from video made available by NASA, the core stage of the Space Launch System, NASA’s planned moon rocket, is tested at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., on Thursday, Mar. 18, 2021.

In this image from video made available by NASA, the core stage of the Space Launch System, NASA’s planned moon rocket, is tested at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., on Thursday, Mar. 18, 2021.

Associated Press

On Thursday, NASA successfully carried out a test of the most powerful rocket in existence, the Space Launch System (SLS), in preparation for the upcoming Artemis missions.

What happened?

The space agency fired up the SLS’s core engines for eight minutes, BBC reports, simulating the amount of time time it would take for the rocket to fly from the ground to space. According to Fox News, NASA will use the data from the test to validate the designs for upcoming Artemis flights.

Phys.org reports that NASA previously attempted an SLS engine test in January, but the trial was cut short after about a minute. This time around, applause broke out in the control room as the engines were disengaged after the eight-minute run.

CNN reports that the test took place at approximately 2:40 p.m. MT at NASA’s Stennis Space Center located near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Onward and upward

CNN reports that Thursday’s launch was the eighth and final test in NASA’s Green Run series, a trial program designed to ensure the SLS can handle the Artemis missions.

With the Thursday test in the books, NASA will likely dismantle the SLS and relocate it to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in preparation for its next launch, Phys.org reports.

According to CNN, the first Artemis mission, the uncrewed Artemis I, is scheduled to launch in November. That launch will be followed by Artemis II, a manned mission that will fly around the moon in August 2023, and in 2024, NASA’s Artemis III mission will take astronauts to the moon again — for the first time in over 50 years.

Key quote

  • “The SLS is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built, and during today’s test the core stage of the rocket generated more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust within seven seconds,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk in a release (via Fox News). “The SLS is an incredible feat of engineering and the only rocket capable of powering America’s next-generation missions that will place the first woman and the next man on the Moon.”

He added, “Today’s successful hot fire test of the core stage for the SLS is an important milestone in NASA’s goal to return humans to the lunar surface — and beyond.”