PROMONTORY, Utah – A solid propellant booster for the most powerful rocket in the world, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), was successfully fired on Tuesday for its second qualification ground test at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah.
This was the last full-scale test for the booster before SLS’s first uncrewed test flight with NASA’s Orion spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in late 2018.
When completed, two five-segment boosters and four RS-25 main engines will be capable of sending humans to deep space destinations such as an asteroid and eventually Mars.
The initial 77-ton (70-metric-ton) SLS configuration will use two 5-segment solid rocket boosters similar to the boosters that helped power the space shuttle to orbit. The next planned upgrade of SLS will use a powerful exploration upper stage for more ambitious missions, with a 105-metric-ton (115-ton) lift capacity. In each configuration, SLS will continue to use the same core stage and four RS-25 engines.
ABOVE PHOTO: The second and final qualification motor (QM-2) test for the Space Launch System’s booster is seen, Tuesday, June 28, 2016, at Orbital ATK Propulsion System’s (SLS) test facilities in Promontory, Utah. During the SLS flight the boosters will provide more than 75 percent of the thrust needed to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth, the first step on NASA’s Journey to Mars. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.