While private space companies were making big moves, NASA began testing the new J-2X rocket engine, the powerhouse behind the new Space Launch System that is designed to drive the next generation of manned space exploration.

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Engineers at the Stennis Space Centre in Mississippi successfully tested the rocket for 2 seconds in the summer, 40 seconds in September, and ramped up to 8 minutes in November.

The J-2X is designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as cargo, into deep space.

“It’s payload capability is truly incredible…J-2X could take a habitat to the lunar surface or Mars”
– William Greene, Engineer & Project Manager, Marshall Space Flight Centre, Alabama

NASA hopes to the rocket to work carrying humans to a near-earth asteroid in 2025.

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