NASA has successfully tested its engine for the Space Launch System (SLS), marking an important milestone in its goal of returning astronauts to the moon over the next five years.
The US space agency conducted the # 2062 RS-25 flight engine test on Thursday at the A-1 test stand at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
The latest "hot fire" test was the culmination of more than four years of testing for the RS-25 engines that will ship the first four SLS rockets into space.
"The engines are now one going to missions to send astronauts to the moon to learn and prepare for missions to Mars," said Johnny Heflin, deputy manager of the SLS Liquid Engine Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
"We are ready to provide the power to explore the Moon and beyond," he added.
The era of the RS-25 rocket engine test began on January 9, 2015, with a 500 second fire – over 8 minutes – from the RS255 development engine # 0525 at the A-1 Test Stand in Stennis.
"When this specific engine fires again, it will help send astronauts aboard Orion around the Moon on a test flight known as Exploration Mission-2," NASA said.
US President Donald Trump's direction from Space Policy Directive-1 encourages NASA to return to the moon and builds on the progress of the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft.
NASA is currently planning to place US astronauts on the moon by 2024.
rt / ksk / mr
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