NASA Test Fires SLS - The Biggest Rocket in the World
NASA just test fired the largest rocket in history for the first time this morning, in a significant step on the road to Mars.
At 11:30 am ET this morning, NASA fired up a booster from the ground that will ultimately help launch the Space Launch System (SLS), a huge new rocket that is being developed to carry the Orion spacecraft. The booster was active for two full minutes, and the test was considered to be a success.
Both the SLS and Orion were developed for the express purpose of someday traveling to Mars. The first official launch of the SLS is scheduled to occur in November 2018, at which time two such boosters will propel the rocket system into deep space. Another test launch will follow soon after, this time carrying the Orion spacecraft atop it.
This booster test is one of many baby steps in a 20-year-long Mission to Mars. The space agency plans to land the SLS along with Orion on a deep space asteroid in the mid-2020's, on the way to a full-fledged Mars trip projected for 2033.
There are some uncertainties in the Mission to Mars, as budgetary restraints have plagued NASA's missions and the government has been loathe to give more money to space travel research as of late. But NASA's public face is still extremely confident (if not as confident as the borderline insane Mars One), and there's always a chance that private companies such as SpaceX could help NASA get to Mars.