Deep-Space NASA Rocket Engines Perform Most Powerful Ignition Test Yet

The engines for NASA’s next rocket performed their most powerful test firing yet.NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, currently under development, is designed to carry humans and cargo to the moon, Mars and deep space.During a Feb. 21 test at Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi, the RS-25 engines reached their highest power level ever achieved, according to a recent statement by NASA.Operators accomplished this feat by revving up the RS-25 engines to 113-percent thrust level for 260 seconds in a full-duration test.How can a rocket engine achieve more than a 100-percent thrust? Well, RS-25 engines were first designed more than 40 years ago, for use with NASA’s space shuttle, and the power level they were capable of achieving at the time is the margin known as 100-percent thrust, according to NASA. RS-25 engines are former space shuttle engines that have been modified to perform more powerfully than ever before.

“Increased engine performance is crucial for enabling SLS missions to deep space as the rocket evolves to be larger and carry astronauts and heavy cargo on a single flight,” NASA officials said in the statement.When the space vehicle is assembled and ready for launch, four of these formidable engines will create a combined 2 million lbs. of thrust, according to the statement. And there’s more: A pair of boosters on the SLS will work with the RS-25 engines to supply the rocket with a whopping 8 million lbs. of total thrust.

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