NASA did a “hot fire” rocket engine test earlier Wednesday at Stennis Space Center, the first one of 2019. The RS-25 rocket features a developmental engine designed to take humans farther in space than we’ve ever gone before – back to the Moon and ultimately Mars.
Four RS-25s, when fired simultaneously, produce two million pounds of thrust during launch and ascent. The rockets contain two engine components that are 3D printed, which Stennis says cuts down on cost and manufacturing time.
On Wednesday, Engineers tested the engines at 113 percent, which stayed in the “safety margin” for operation. Each successful test gets NASA closer to Exploration Mission-1. According to NASA: “Exploration Mission-1 will be an unpiloted flight test, the first in a series of increasingly complex missions, providing a foundation for human exploration of deep space. During the first mission, Orion will travel 280,000 miles from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week flight.”
The second Orion flight, Exploration Mission-2, will carry astronauts.
A launch date for Exploration Mission-1 has not been set.