By Helen Regan
March 12, 2015

NASA successfully fired up a huge new rocket booster at its Utah test facility on Wednesday, passing a major milestone for future deep-space missions.

The 117-foot booster is the biggest ever built and NASA says it’s powerful enough to reach beyond the Moon, to asteroids or even Mars.

Apart from making a serious dent in the Utah desert, the booster is part of a Space Launch System (SLS) being developed by the space agency that is scheduled to blast off in 2018.

The rocket was fired for two minutes (the same amount of time it takes to launch the SLS) and produced about 3.6 million pounds of thrust.

“The work being done around the country today to build the SLS is laying a solid foundation for future exploration missions, and these missions will enable us to pioneer far into the solar system,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations.

Write to Helen Regan at helen.regan@timeasia.com.

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