Tuesday, May 24, 2022

How to watch NASA fire up its thrilling Artemis moon-mission rocket booster

NASA’s SLS rocket booster on a test stand in Utah.

Northrop Grumman

There’s nothing quite like a big ol’ rocket booster doing its thing, spitting flames and raging against gravity. Before these beasts head into space, they must go through extensive testing on the ground. On Wednesday, NASA will be livestreaming one of these crucial tests for its powerful Space Launch System (SLS) booster.

SLS is under development as NASA’s planned workhorse rocket for its Artemis moon program. The agency is eyeing a tight deadline of 2024 to return humans to our favorite nearby space rock. 

NASA TV will go live from the Northrop Grumman facilities in Promontory, Utah, where a full-scale SLS booster is lying on its side. The feed is scheduled to kick off at 11:45 a.m. PT on Wednesday, Sept. 2. 

This Flight Support Booster-1 test has the main objective of confirming “motor performance and manufacturing quality for potential new materials and processes,” says the space agency. NASA is already looking beyond the moon to how it’ll launch missions deeper into space, including missions to Mars.

We can expect a fiery show during the two-minute test. As NASA noted, “the SLS solid rocket boosters are the largest, most powerful boosters ever built for flight.” The agency also pointed out how the exhaust from these tests “is so hot it turns the desert sand into glass.”

SLS will be equipped with twin boosters that’ll pack quite a punch during launch. NASA is hoping to put the system through its paces with the uncrewed Artemis 1 test flight that will ferry an Orion capsule around the moon. The agency hasn’t yet set a date for the launch, but it won’t be before late 2021.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the pomp and circumstance of this latest SLS test. 

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