NASA Test Northrop Grumman Booster Chosen to Power SLS Rocket

Engineers executed a two-minute test fire of the Space Launch System rocket's full-scale booster on Wednesday afternoon in Utah

Engineers executed a two-minute test fire of the Space Launch System rocket's full-scale booster on Wednesday afternoon in Utah

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Engineers successfully performed a test fire of the Space Launch System rocket's full-scale booster on Wednesday afternoon.

The huge Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) provide most of the thrust in the first two minutes of the SLS's ride to space.

NASA will be evaluating data gathered during this test and using it as they work with Northrop Grumman to complete development of the Artemis I spacecraft, an unmanned mission that will use twin SLS boosters to send an Orion capsule around the moon.

"To pull [the test] off now, after six months of what we've been through, it feels like a really big milestone", Bruce Tiller, manager of the SLS boosters office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said during a post-test teleconference.

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Wednesday's firing of Flight Support Booster 1, the sixth test of a five-segment SLS booster since 2009, was meant to collect engineering data on the performance of new materials and equipment that may be incorporated in downstream SLS flights.

Live footage of the test, which took place at Northrop Grumman's facilities in Promontory, Utah, showcased the tremendous force generated by the system's rockets. Some lawmakers, however, have urged NASA to delay putting U.S. boots on the moon until 2028.

"Landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon is just the beginning of NASA's Artemis Program", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, in a statement Wednesday. The SLS flight support booster firing is a crucial part of sustaining missions to the moon. The ground-shaking test will help clear the way for missions carrying astronauts and cargo to the moon and beyond using NASA's new Space Launch System.

Despite the ambitious project suffering a number of delays and a spiraling budget, astronaut Christina Koch, who recently broke the record for the longest single continuous stay in space for a woman at 328 days, told Digital Trends that NASA can "absolutely" achieve its "bold goal" of returning humans to the moon by 2024. That's 13% more than the Space Shuttle and 15% more than the mighty Saturn V, the launch vehicle used for earlier crewed missions to the moon.

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