Washington: NASA has successfully tested its engine for the Space Launch System (SLS), marking a major milestone in its aim to return astronauts to the Moon in the next five years.
The US space agency conducted the test of RS-25 flight engine No. 2062 on Thursday on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Centre near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
The latest "hot fire" test was the culmination of over four years of testing for the RS-25 engines that will send the first four SLS rockets into space.
"Engines are now a 'go' for missions to send astronauts forward to the Moon to learn and prepare for missions to Mars," said Johnny Heflin, Deputy Manager of the SLS Liquid Engines Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.
"We're ready to provide the power to explore the Moon and beyond," he added.
The RS-25 rocket engine test era began January 9, 2015, with a 500-second -- more than 8 minutes -- hot fire of RS-25 developmental engine No. 0525 on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis.
"When this specific engine fires again, it will help send astronauts aboard Orion around the Moon on a test flight known as Exploration Mission-2," NASA said.
US President Donald Trump's direction from Space Policy Directive-1 galvanises NASA to return to the Moon and builds on progress on the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.
NASA currently aims to put American astronauts on the Moon by 2024.