It's the most powerful rocket booster ever built, could be our best bet to set a foot down on Mars, and it just successfully fired up in this test explosion not out in the wilds of space, but right here on the ground — and you can see it in action in these incredible pictures.

The rocket booster test for NASA's Space Launch System took place this morning in the Utah desert at NASA's propulsion test facilities. As you can see from the pictures below, it went extremely well:

With this successful test behind it, the 77-ton rocket booster for NASA's Space Launch System is now halfway to being cleared for flight. The second test is scheduled to take place about a year from now, in 2016. Once it passes that second hurdle, NASA will be in possession of a fully-operational set of rocket boosters capable of taking us not just on their scheduled trip to Mars, but perhaps beyond.

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Even with those working rocket boosters, however, the question of when and how the entire Space Launch System will finally be able to get us off this dusty little planetary rock we call home remains to be answered. Still, these successful booster test puts us another step closer to the stars.

Top images via @NASA_SLS.