NASA's Biggest-Ever Solid Rocket Shakes Utah

NASA's DM-2 rocket motor successfully fired for two minutes this week, pumping out a massive cloud of smoke while technicians carried out their tests. The first test is... are their earplugs in tight enough to block out the incredible noise?

Prior to the firing at the ATK Aerospace Systems facility in Promontory, Utah, the engine was chilled to minus 40 degrees, to allow for additional tests on the stresses generated. Eventually it'll pump out 3.6 million pounds of thrust. Avert your eyes, Bob.

The end result will be the power unit for NASA's new Constellation class of launchers, which will be coming into service around 2015. [PopSci]