Kyle Gray
Kyle Gray
Mar 20, 2015 · 4 min read
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The SLS Booster — After the successful firing

NASA SLS Rocket Test

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Last week, I had the great experience of being able to participate in the NASA SLS Booster test.

Miles away from any city, town, or place to buy breakfast, Orbital ATK tested the Space Launch System booster that is meant to eventually bring humans to Mars.

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Throughout this two day event, we were able to tour the facility where the rocket is built. The whole first day entailed touring where the rocket is made, in a part of Orbital ATK where we couldn’t even take pictures.

I thought the best thing to do would make a photo essay from some of the things I saw.

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The Social Group learning how the boosters are built. Behind us is one section made of multiple alloys.
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Another section where they coat the rockets with rubber and sealants

In this room, they do a lot to the finished rocket section. It’s vacuum locked and weather proofed, as well as insulated. This helps the rocket stay in one piece as well as not completely melt when it’s fired.

There’s also the nozzle on the bottom that has the ability to vector in flight.

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Throughout the first day, it was all factory tours. But later we got to participate in a Q & A with engineers, NASA officials, and even astronauts to learn a lot about the rocket launch, and how the Mars Program is going to progress.

One of the main subjects emphasized, and one of the reasons they were spreading the word about this is because some of the general public still thinks NASA isn’t doing anything.

Yes. NASA is still around. And yes. We are going to Mars.

Day 2: The Test

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The second day was full of excitement. Driving there, I saw lines and lines of cars (at 6 AM) driving to get a spot from the public viewing area to see the rocket being fired off. I drove by, glad that I had front row seats.

Once we got to our viewing area, which was one mile away from the rocket, we settled in with the huge crowd of media waiting for the test. The NASA social group had front row seats. In front of any media, news crews, or other attendees.

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Camera guy in background glares at the people with the selfie stick
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The rocket test was successful, as the rocket fired for two full minutes. It was loud and beautiful to watch.

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We got to visit the rocket two hours after it was fired. There was water still cooling the rocket off, and it would continue to cool it off for three hours. You could smell the propellant in the air, and there was molten sand behind the rocket.

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This rocket test was an amazing experience. I got to meet a lot of interesting and famous people, as well as learn a lot about the SLS System. I’m looking forward to the eventual launch NASA has in 2018. Where we will finally have human life on Mars.

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