Utah was the site of the first test of the world’s largest solid rocket booster today, a test which proved successful. NASA will be using the information it gathered from this test to ensure that one of its largest and most ambitious programs to date will be able to carry humans to Mars, or perhaps even further than that.
The world’s largest solid rocket booster roared to life today, shaking the serene countryside of Promontory, Utah, for a full two minutes. The booster filled the area with smoke and flame; viewers could actually see the fiery plumes “dance” and move around as they mixed with the surrounding soil. Below the test stand, a layer of sand protecting underlying concrete structures melted into glass from the heat. Bystanders were treated to a real-life example of how light travels faster than sound: the flames and vibrations were readily observable before the sound from the booster was heard. This is the first of two planned qualification tests, designed to validate the booster’s performance, and it went off without a hitch. The rocket motor fired for the full duration, thundering through the mountainside.