Friday, July 16, 2021: A cloud of smoke generated by the RS-25 engine, which will propel the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to the moon, can be seen in this image taken during a hot fire test at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
The engine, made by Aerojet Rocketdyne, is currently undergoing extensive testing. During the latest test, which took place on Wednesday (July 14), engineers fired the engine for more than 8 minutes at 111% of its original power level, which would be required during the launch to the moon, and at 113% to test a safety margin.
The SLS rocket will be fitted with four such engines, which will, together with two solid rocket boosters, generate 1.6 million pounds of thrust at launch and 2 million pounds during ascent, NASA said in a statement.
SLS, set to become the world’s most powerful rocket, will send the unmanned Orion capsule for a trip around the moon in November this year to test the technology ahead of a mission with astronauts in 2023. — Tereza Pultarova