NASA fires up engine that will take the SLS to Mars

NASA has successfully tested the RS-25 engine, which will power the Space Launch System (SLS), for the sixth time at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The space agency fired it up for 535 seconds and collected data to determine what needs to be tweaked and improved to make sure it can carry the massive new rocket. NASA livestreamed the event as it was happening, but you can watch the recap below the break if you missed seeing the engine spew out fire from up close.

RS-25s aren't exactly new -- they were known as the main Space Shuttle engines back in the day. However, they need to be re-tested, since the SLS is much bigger and needs more power. Plus, the data the agency collects will help it design a new engine controller and software for the rocket. The SLS was created specifically to launch the Orion spacecraft for future deep-space missions, including both unmanned and manned trips to Mars. If all goes as planned, it will ferry an unmanned capsule to space for the first time as soon as 2018.

Miss the 535 sec RS-25 engine test? This engine will launch @NASA_SLS on our #JourneyToMars:

— NASA (@NASA) August 13, 2015

[Image credit: NASA/MSFC]