This is the Rocket Booster That May Put Humans on the Red Planet

By Darren Orf on at

This is the most powerful booster ever built by man, and it will be the driving force behind NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), the vehicle that will one day put humans on Mars. This engineering marvel will have its first major ground test today at 15:00 GMT.

According to NASA, this test fire tomorrow is major milestone for humanity's exploration into the deeper reaches of space.

The two-minute static test is a significant milestone for the SLS as part of NASA's journey to Mars, and follows years of development. It is one of two ground tests to qualify the booster for flight. A second test is planned for early 2016. Once qualification is complete, the hardware will be ready to help send the rocket, along with NASA's Orion spacecraft, on its first flight test. When completed, two five-segment, solid-rocket boosters and four RS-25 main engines will power the SLS as it begins its deep space missions. The boosters operate in parallel with the main engines for the first two minutes of flight, providing more than 75 percent of the thrust needed for the rocket to escape Earth's gravitational pull.

What exciting times we live in.

Image via Orbital ATK