NASA tests deep space rocket booster

NASA tests deep space rocket booster

MIAMI: (APP) NASA on Tuesday performed its second and last test-fire of a rocket booster for the Space Launch System (SLS), a powerful engine that may one day launch astronauts to Mars, the US space agency said.

Fire and gray smoke billowed from the booster, which lay on the ground during the two-minute test fire in the remote hills of Utah at 11:05 am (1605 GMT).

NASA has described the SLS as the "world's most powerful rocket," and said the test aims to see how the propellant performs at the colder end of its temperature range.

"This is the last time the booster will be fired in a test environment before the first test flight of SLS with NASA's Orion spacecraft, known as Exploration Mission-1 in late 2018," NASA said in a statement.

The test took place at Orbital ATK Propulsion Systems' test facilities in Promontory, Utah.

NASA said it will provide "critical data to support booster qualification for flight."

The test aims to see how the motor performs in cold temperatures -- a targeted 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius).

The first full-scale booster test in March 2015 showed the booster performed adequately at 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C) -- the highest end of the booster's accepted propellant temperature range.