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NASA inches closer to send World’s most powerful Rocket to Mars

The two-minute, full-duration ground qualification test provided NASA with critical data on 82 qualification objectives that will support certification of the booster for flight

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NASA Rocket Test. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • NASA successfully fire-tested a booster at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah 
  • In March 2015, it has successfully completed the first full-scale booster qualification ground test
  • When completed, two five-segment boosters and four RS-25 main engines will power SLS on deep space missions

WASHINGTON: NASA successfully fire-tested a booster at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah for Space Launch System (SLS). The test was done in wake of sending most powerful rocket to Mars on Tuesday.

This was the last full-scale test for the booster before SLS is ready in 2018 for the first uncrewed test flight with NASA’s Orion spacecraft, marking a key milestone on the agency’s Journey to Red Planet.

“This final qualification test of the booster system shows real progress in the development of the Space Launch System,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC.

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“Seeing this test today, and experiencing the sound and feel of approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust, helps us appreciate the progress we’re making to advance human exploration and open new frontiers for science and technology missions in deep space,” he added in a statement.

The two-minute, full-duration ground qualification test provided NASA with critical data on 82 qualification objectives that will support certification of the booster for flight.

Engineers now will evaluate test data captured by more than 530 instrumentation channels on the booster.

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When completed, two five-segment boosters and four RS-25 main engines will power SLS on deep space missions.

 Planet Mars. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Planet Mars. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The solid rocket boosters, built by NASA contractor Orbital ATK, operate in parallel with SLS’s main engines for the first two minutes of flight.

They will provide more than 75 per cent of the thrust needed for the rocket and Orion spacecraft to escape Earth’s gravitational pull.

“Today’s test is the pinnacle of years of hard work by the NASA team, Orbital ATK and commercial partners across the country,” added John Honeycutt, SLS programme manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

“SLS hardware is currently in production for every part of the rocket. NASA also is making progress every day on Orion and the ground systems to support a launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. We’re on track to launch SLS on its first flight test with Orion and pave the way for a human presence in deep space.”

In March 2015, it has successfully completed the first full-scale booster qualification ground test. (IANS)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    An amazing success story, this can help us get to know more about Mars and its features.

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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Captures Images of Martian Dust Storm

The last storm of global magnitude that enveloped Mars was in 2007, five years before Curiosity landed there

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NASA image.
NASA's Curiosity Rover Captures Images of Martian Dust Storm. Pixabay

With NASA engineers yet to make contact with the Opportunity Mars rover due to a massive storm on the Red Planet, scientists are pinning their hopes on learning more about Martian dust storms from images captured by the Curiosity probe.

As of Tuesday morning, the Martian dust storm had grown in size and was officially a “planet-encircling” (or “global”) dust event, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.

Though Curiosity is on the other side of Mars from Opportunity, dust has steadily increased over it, more than doubling over the weekend, NASA said.

The US space agency said the Curiosity Rover this month used its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, to snap photos of the intensifying haziness of the surface of Mars caused by the massive dust storm.

For NASA’s human scientists watching from the ground, Curiosity offers an unprecedented window to answer some questions. One of the biggest: Why do some Martian dust storms last for months and grow massive, while others stay small and last only a week?

“We don’t have any good idea,” said Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Mars Rover
Mars Rover, Pixabay

Curiosity, he pointed out, plus a fleet of spacecraft in the orbit of Mars, will allow scientists for the first time to collect a wealth of dust information both from the surface and from space.

The last storm of global magnitude that enveloped Mars was in 2007, five years before Curiosity landed there.

The current storm has starkly increased dust at Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover is studying the storm’s effects from the surface.

But it poses little risk to the Curiosity rover, said Curiosity’s engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Also Read: NASA Plans To Install An Instrument To Monitor Plant Water Use

However, there was still no signal from the Opportunity rover, although a recent analysis of the rover’s long-term survivability in Mars’ extreme cold suggests Opportunity’s electronics and batteries can stay warm enough to function.

Regardless, the project does not expect to hear from Opportunity until the skies begin to clear over the rover.

The dust storm is comparable in scale to a similar storm observed by Viking I in 1977, but not as big as the 2007 storm that Opportunity previously weathered. (IANS)