NASA Just Tested the Rocket Engine We'll Use to Visit Mars

NASA’s RS-25 engine, the powerhouse aboard the SLS rocket that will one day launch us to Mars, just completed an explosive test run. You’re gonna wanna see this.


Remember that when the SLS finally takes off, there will be four RS-25 engines working in concert, making it the most powerful rocket we’ve ever sent into space. The engine-eye view is a pretty good look at the kind of power we can expect. What the spectators saw, though, was mostly smoke:

Like, seriously, a whole lot of smoke:

The engine burned for a full 545 seconds during its test. The early results, it’s true, look incredibly good—but NASA won’t know for sure until they go over the various engine parts to see how they came out and then sit down with the data to double-check.


Still, the first impression is that we’ve got one hell of a rocket engine ready to take us up to Mars, coming soon.


GIFs made from live test footage broadcast by NASA


Remember, this is a newer version of the same RS-25 that we flew for decades on the Shuttle. It doesn't make it less cool to see the steam, and a long-duration firing, but unfortunately, this isn't a huge advance of the state of the art. Which is unfortunate, because we desperately need one.