While in some fields of science we are already living in a science fiction reality (robotic exoskeletons, fully functioning artificial limbs, the IoT), in other we’ve managed to fall far behind. As you might expect, I’m talking about how little progress we’ve made in the field of space travel.
We should have been exploring the universe by now, not just looking through telescopes at far away stars and planning for travel to another planet in a decade. The biggest reason behind this is our lack of advancements in the rocket engine department. Attempting to finally fix this unfortunate situation we’re in, a deep space engine was successfully tested by NASA.
RS-25 rocket engine
This Friday, NASA announced that they successfully completed a test launch for an experimental rocket engine meant to take future astronauts to Mars and to even farther regions of the galaxy. The agency completed the test on Thursday, and they’re proud to say that it was successful.
Lasting for some five hundred seconds, the high powered blast was a very important landmark in our space flight history. The next time NASA will fire the rocket for so long it will be to send a manned space craft to space sometime in the next forty five years.
Space launch system
An integral part in the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS), the RS-25 is the best rocket engine developed to date. The system is going to include four rockets mounted on a new space craft design. Every single element about the new system was designed with deep space travel in mind.
Before the test on Thursday, previous missions by the SLS made use of engines left from NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. The remaining rockets, despite being old, are still fully functional, and they worked in propelling as many as 135 missions over the span of 30 years – from 1981 to 2011.
One sole rocket of the SLS’s four will be able to fire thrust levels of up to 109%. Working together, the four top of the line rocket engines will provide the vehicle with as much as two million pounds of thrust. This makes it a very important step forward in rocket travel, perhaps the most important so far.
NASA didn’t work alone on building the rockets, as they had help from Aerojet Rocketdyne, a rocket manufacturing company with a name oddly similar to the company which created Skynet. Rocketdyne was responsible for carrying out developmental tests, as well as for checking the capabilities of the new controller and other operating conditions.
Image source: Wikimedia