STENNIS SPACE CENTER, MS (WLOX)
It was like the first football game of the season. A crowd of about 1,000 people, media representatives, employees and special guests gathered near the A-1 test stand at Stennis Space Center to watch a nearly nine minute test of a rocket like those that will send astronauts into deep space.
They wanted power, and they got it. The engines that will be part of the Space Launch System for the Orion ship are the same engines that launched the space shuttle missions for 30 years.
The thoughts of the new missions just around the corner has NASA's motor running once again.
Stennis is home to 16 shuttle engines that will serve the Space Launch System.
“These engines are proven engines,” said Paul Foerman, with NASA Public Affairs. “These are the Rolls Royce of engines, to use a comparative term. They are flight worthy. They are flight proven. They are the most reliable engine in the inventory.”
The test was to see how the engines are working with a new controller component that regulates engine performance.
The test went the entire 535 seconds, and data will be collected, analyzed and used for future testing.
Engine tests on the four engines to be used for flight have been scheduled for the fall.
While this may have been a short-term success, folks around here at Stennis Space Center are excited about the long-term possibilities.
“I am totally pumped up to be part of NASA at this time period,” Foerman said. “We’re getting ready to test the stages for the space launch system, and this will take astronauts on journeys to asteroids and eventually to Mars. This is the next space exploration step for NASA.”
Todd May, program manager for the SLS, was in high school when the space shuttle first launched.
“I can imagine we feel about like folks did back then when they were developing the shuttle, except this is almost like Apollo,” May said. “We’re building a space craft and a launch vehicle that’s going to take us out beyond lower earth orbit into deep space. We haven’t done that in over 40 years.”
NASA’s plan is to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s.
“We don't know yet what we're going to learn,” May added. “But we know we are going to learn and discover things we've never known.”