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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: No contact Made With Storm-Hit Mars Rover, Till Now

Because Opportunity runs on solar energy, scientists had to suspend science activities to preserve the rover's batteries.

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NASA
NASA said no response has been received from the rover as of July 18. Flickr

 NASA is yet to make contact with its Mars Opportunity Rover ever since a massive storm started on the Red Planet in June.

Based on the longevity of a 2001 global storm, NASA scientists estimate it may be September before the haze has cleared enough for Opportunity to power up and call home, the US space agency said this week.

Scientists first observed a smaller-scale dust storm on May 30. By June 20, it had gone global.

For the Opportunity rover, that meant a sudden drop in visibility from a clear, sunny day to that of an overcast one.

Because Opportunity runs on solar energy, scientists had to suspend science activities to preserve the rover’s batteries.

NASA said no response has been received from the rover as of July 18.

NASA
The nearly 15-year-old rover is not out of the woods yet as it could take weeks, or even months, for the dust to start settling. Pixabay

Luckily, all that dust acts as an atmospheric insulator, keeping nighttime temperatures from dropping down to lower than what Opportunity can handle.

But the nearly 15-year-old rover is not out of the woods yet as it could take weeks, or even months, for the dust to start settling.

When the skies begin to clear, Opportunity’s solar panels may be covered by a fine film of dust. That could delay a recovery of the rover as it gathers energy to recharge its batteries. A gust of wind would help, but is not a requirement for a full recovery, NASA said.

While the Opportunity team waits in earnest to hear from the rover, scientists on other Mars missions have gotten a rare chance to study this storm.

Also Read-Survival Of Mars Rover Is Under Threat Due To A sandstorm

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Odyssey, and Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiters are all tailoring their observations of the Red Planet to study this global storm and learn more about Mars’ weather patterns.

Meanwhile, the Curiosity rover is studying the dust storm from the Martian surface, the US space agency added. (IANS)