NASA Unveils ‘Most Powerful Rocket Ever Built’

By Taneesh Kondapally
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nasa.gov

NASA recently unveiled the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that could be holding a manned mission to the moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis Project. This system called the ‘most powerful rocket ever built’ by NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, completed its first round of testing. As per a tweet by Bridenstine, “Engineers at NASA Marshall tested the NASA SLS liquid hydrogen tank to failure -- the tank withstood more than 260% of expected flight loads before buckling and rupturing!” The successful test of this rocket means that the core stage of the SLS is complete and the Artemis project can move on as planned. 

The Artemis Project is a project by NASA aimed to send a manned mission to the moon by 2024. The main reason why a manned mission is planned for the moon is to prove NASA technology for a manned mission to Mars, which can take up to three years roundtrip. Other purposes include exploring more of the moon’s surface, experience for the astronauts of living on a celestial body, and finding water and other critical resources needed for further research. This mission is all leading up to a manned mission to Mars. NASA is planning to go to Mars soon after with new information from the Artemis project.

NASA is not the only organization planning to go to Mars, though. SpaceX, a company owned by Elon Musk, was created in 2002 to reduce space transportation costs so travel to Mars isn’t so unrealistic. SpaceX plans to send cargo ships to Mars in 2022 to identify hazards and place support. Then it plans to send a manned mission to Mars by 2024 to set the ground for human colonization. This ambitious plan is already underway. The ship that SpaceX plans to go there, the Starship, is being built. The rocket is planned to be launched into orbit by March 2020 for testing.

Even though NASA and SpaceX are two competitors, both companies are starting to work with Boeing on many projects, such as the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is running out of funding since NASA is a government-run business. So NASA is working with Boeing and SpaceX to help fund the ISS. The way NASA plans to raise money is commercial. NASA plans to open up the ISS for companies, like SpaceX and Boeing, to pay to do research from the low-gravity orbit and tourists to visit the ISS. SpaceX and NASA are also working together to launch a manned mission from American soil.

NASA’s Artemis Project has made a major breakthrough through the success of the SLS. With all of this hard work, humanity is one step closer to landing people on Mars.