NASA's newest and loftiest goal since putting the first men on the moon:
Getting humans to the moon, to Mars, and beyond. All starting in less than 5 years from now. By 2023, NASA hopes to have the Space Launch System, or SLS, taking humans to where we've been before, to where only robots have gone, and hopefully to places still to be explored.
But first, we have to test the system itself.
Just this past week up at the Cape, the Water Deluge System went under a test of functionality. What does all this water do? What water does during a launch has really nothing to do with putting out a fire, it has everything to do with noise suppression.
Launches are loud, launches are violent, and with SLS and the Orion capsule, this will be the most powerful rocket ever built and will be powered by 4 very big engines. So lots of noise has to be dampened.
Hence, the Water Deluge System, which sends water over 100 feet into the air and will release over 450,000 gallons of water across the launch pad:
So how's the progress of the SLS? Back in August engineers tested one of the four rockets that will be used to launch the Orion capsule into space. It's four engines releasing over 700,000 gallons of liquid propellant (THAT'S MORE THAN AN OLYMPIC SIZED SWIMMING POOL!) during liftoff and carrying different payloads for different missions:
And what about the launch pad?
Since the retirement of the Space Shuttles, NASA's launch pad 39A and 39B have been retrofitted and updated; 39A is mainly used by SpaceX and 39B will now be the launch pad solely used for SLS and the Orion capsule.
Early in September, the Mobile Launcher rolled to the pad for a test fit:
It truly is a great time to be on Florida's Space Coast. We have more launches than ever happening here in Brevard County. With more missions, more expectations, and more mysteries in the cosmos to uncover.
The main reason I love space? Is because it all lifts off right here. Our arms and minds extend to the universe, right here in Brevard County. And if you don't feel the magic that is human space exploration, just wait until the first humans step out of an Orion capsule, on the moon, on Mars, or on an asteroid and remember that they drove down A1A at some point...the same as you always do.