Nasa successfully tests its 'megarocket' engine

The world's biggest rocket is a step closer to reality, after Nasa completed a key flight controller test for the engine that will power it. 

The space agency completed the test on the RS-25 rocket engine at the Stennis Space Centre in Mississippi.

The engine will eventually be fitted to the Space Launch System (SLS), which will be used to launch the Orion spacecraft in 2019, ahead of blasting humans to Mars in the 2030s.

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Nasa's Exploration Mission-1 has stepped closer to reality, as the space agency completed a flight controller test for the engines that will power its 'megarocket'

Nasa's Exploration Mission-1 has stepped closer to reality, as the space agency completed a flight controller test for the engines that will power its 'megarocket'

THE EM-1 MISSION

Nasa's Orion, stacked on a Space Launch System rocket capable of lifting 70 metric tons will launch from a newly refurbished Kennedy Space Center in 2019.

The uncrewed Orion will travel into Distant Retrograde Orbit, breaking the distance record reached by the most remote Apollo spacecraft, and then 30,000 miles farther out (275,000 total miles).

The mission will last 22 days and was designed to test system readiness for future crewed operations.

Nasa completed the test, which lasted 500 seconds, at 14:55 CST (20:55 BST) yesterday.

Speaking ahead of the test, Philip Benefield, Systems and Requirements Team Lead for the SLS Liquid Engines Office, said: 'The test that we're planning to run on Thursday is a 500-second duration test, which is typical of what we've done in the past, it's representative of a nominal SLS profile.' 

During the test firing, the engine was throttled at thrust levels from 80 per cent to 109 per cent of rated power level (RPL). 

The engine was throttled at 109 per cent RPL for 350 seconds, at 100 per cent RPL for eight seconds, and at 80 per cent RPL for 78 seconds.

Nasa live-streamed the test, and footage revealed an enormous plume of smoke being billowed into the air. 

For the SLS vehicle, the engines will fire at 109 per cent thrust level and provide a combined two million pounds of thrust.

During the test firing, the engine was throttled at thrust levels from 80 per cent to 109 per cent of rated power level (RPL). The engine was throttled at 109 per cent RPL for 350 seconds, at 100 per cent RPL for eight seconds, and at 80 per cent RPL for 78 seconds

During the test firing, the engine was throttled at thrust levels from 80 per cent to 109 per cent of rated power level (RPL). The engine was throttled at 109 per cent RPL for 350 seconds, at 100 per cent RPL for eight seconds, and at 80 per cent RPL for 78 seconds

Speaking ahead of the test, Philip Benefield, Systems and Requirements Team Lead for the SLS Liquid Engines Office, said: 'The test that we're planning to run on Thursday is a 500-second duration test, which is typical of what we've done in the past, it's representative of a nominal SLS profile'

Speaking ahead of the test, Philip Benefield, Systems and Requirements Team Lead for the SLS Liquid Engines Office, said: 'The test that we're planning to run on Thursday is a 500-second duration test, which is typical of what we've done in the past, it's representative of a nominal SLS profile'

Nasa is working to ensure the engines can perform at these higher levels under a variety of conditions.

The agency is now working toward a 2019 launch date for the

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