Space travel is exciting and a great proof of humanity’s technological developments. Now, NASA will be taking things a step further by launching the “most powerful rocket it’s ever built” on January 17, 2021.
According to the agency, this beast will be used for non-commercial human space flight. The Space Launch System (SLS) has been in works for quite some time and delayed multiple times due to many reasons cited by the agency. The “most powerful” rocket is central to the ambitious Artemis space program where they will be putting the “the first woman and next man” on the moon.
A rocket typically has two major components – liquid fuel engines and solid fuel boosters. The latter helps boost the spacecraft’s first ascent as it leaves the Earth’s lower spheres, providing an extra thrust. On the first ignition test run, the agency will only be testing the liquid fuel engines.
The test is the final stages in NASA’s eight-part test run. The agency has named the process as “SLS Green Run.” The previous stage, i.e., the seventh step, was successfully completed on December 20, 2020. That test showed the rocket could carry around 700,000 gallons (265,000 litres) of supercooled liquid fuel. It can also have that fuel removed without any problems during the flight. The last stage will be performed at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
“During our wet dress rehearsal Green Run test, the core stage, the stage controller, and the Green Run software all performed flawlessly, and there were no leaks when the tanks were fully loaded and replenished for approximately two hours,” said Julie Bassler, SLS Stages manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She added that the collective data from all the previous tests have assured the team that they can go ahead with the “hot fire.”
The SLS is a 322 feet tall behemoth but it is still slightly shorter than Saturn V (363 feet), a rocket that took astronauts to the moon in the 1960s. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up in power as it is capable of producing 15% more thrust during lift-off as well as ascent. Additionally, the rocket can also carry a lot of load into the outer space.
According to the official website, the rocket can successfully support 27 tons (24,000 kilograms) to the moon. It is also slated as a “better cargo mover” than previous crafts like Saturn V by LiveScience.com.
Space enthusiasts can probably watch the test run live on NASA’s official YouTube channel as most of their big projects like these are generally live-streamed.