NASA bench-tested their new deep space travel rocket engine last week, an RS-25 engine, which would be perfect for future missions that might transport human beings to Mars.
The RS-25 rocket engine burned for a total of 500 seconds on March 10th, where it unleashed hellish flames and demonstrated its strong engine thrust. This kind of engine would be affixed to NASA’s SLS rocket for deep space travel missions in the future.
“What a great moment for NASA and Stennis,” said Rick Gilbrech, director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. “We have exciting days ahead with a return to deep space and a journey to Mars, and this test is a very big step in that direction.”
These engines are remnants from an older time. Once used to carry the Space Shuttle and its passengers to and from space, they are a tried and true method of getting mankind to space, and are very reliable. For future space missions, these engines will roar at 109% capacity and give the SLS rocket 2 million pounds of total thrust power.
“Not only does this test mark an important step towards proving our existing design for SLS’s first flight,” said Steve Wofford, engines manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where the SLS Program is managed for the agency, “but it’s also a great feeling that this engine that has carried so many astronauts into space before is being prepared to take astronauts to space once again on SLS’s first crewed flight.”
NASA is now working on new controllers for the engine that will help it function as needed for future deep space travel missions. These controllers will be untested, unlike the ol’ reliable engines, so there will be more testing periods to come to ensure that the controllers can be relied on as much as the engines can be.
NASA has a long-standing interest in sending mankind to explore and live on Mars, where astronauts could settle permanently in 3D-printed habitation developments. Although we’re still far from that point in time, getting the technology ready is a great way to prepare for all situations and ensure that everything is safe when the time comes.
It looks like we're already one step closer to sending the first of mankind to visit Mars, but it'll still be decades before that day comes.