HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Getting to Mars by 2030 is the goal set by NASA as crews begin looking into deep space exploration.
On Thursday, the public got the chance to witness that goal in action at Stennis Space Center while celebrating 56 years of "Making Fire and Rain".
"The engine is actually powered with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. That's the propellants and it makes a rain cloud when it does test fire, so, it's non-toxic it's just letting water back into the earth," said Kenny Herbet, Aerojet Rocketdyne engineer.
Testing the RS-25 rocket engine was the main attraction of Founders' Day. Though it's the same engine that launched the space shuttle into orbit for 30 years, now it has a new mission.
"It powers the core stage of our Space Launch System, or SLS, which is our spacecraft to Mars and deep space," said Herbet.
While the engine test was the main event, there were a number of interactive booths set up for people to learn about deep space travel, and the basics of how a rocket gets to Mars. But, it's not nearly as simple as going to the moon.
The extra distance means much more time in space, possibly up to a year before reaching the red planet. For Aerojet Rocketdyne engineers, it means they need more power in their engine.
"These are the same ones that were on the space shuttle main engine," added Herbet. "They're slightly modified and they're more powerful now. "
For visitors, the event lived up to the billing.
Herbert says the first exploration mission will not be a manned flight, but the second will have a full crew marking the first human SLS space flight.