Imagine sitting inside a space capsule atop the most powerful rocket ever built, a $10 billion job with more than two million pounds of thrust from four liquid-hydrogen engines. You’re the cherry on a cakelike assembly standing as tall as Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle.
You’re about to slingshot deeper into the heavens than any human has gone before. What might liftoff feel like as earth's most powerful vehicle slips gravity? Probably no vacation in Florida—but hopefully for the crew, it won’t be deadly.
That’s why engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston are in the process of simulating a launch in the agency’s new super rocket, designed with Boeing and modestly named Space Launch System (SLS). The tests will let crew members experience for the first time what an actual launch might be like.
The Mars rocket simulator gives astronauts a taste of lift-off