NASA is preparing to test its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket today, as the space agency makes advances on returning humans to the Moon. SLS are the rockets used for the Artemis program, which NASA has sed will take humans not only to the Moon but also to Mars.
This is the second time NASA has tested the core stage of the rocket, which will see the engines powered up to full blast.
By doing so, NASA hopes to ensure the space agency’s latest batch of rockets will ensure they will have enough thrust and power to reach the lunar satellite.
NASA will be broadcasting the event live from the Stennis Space Center near Bay St Louis, Mississippi.
The space agency has a two-hour test window, which begins at 7.00pm GMT (3.00pm local time) today, on March 18.
NASA has not revealed the exact time of the test, but said live coverage will begin “approximately 30 minutes before the hot fire”.
A live stream of NASA TV, the platform which it is hosted, has been embedded at the top of this page.
NASA said: “On test day, engineers will power up all the core stage systems, load more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic, or supercold, propellant into the tanks, and fire the rocket’s four RS-25 engines at the same time to simulate the stage’s operation during launch, generating 1.6 million pounds of thrust.
“The core stage includes the liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank, four RS-25 engines, as well as the computers, electronics, and avionics that serve as the ‘brains’ of the rocket.
READ MORE: Moon warning: Scientists call for lunar ‘doomsday vault’
This year, NASA will launch its first Artemis program rocket, Artemis 1, which will be an uncrewed mission to the Moon.
The rocket will carry the Orion spacecraft, which will orbit the Moon, and is set to take off in late 2021.
The spaceship will give experts the chance to understand how Orion performs in space in preparation for crewed missions in the near future.