Forty-year old tech taking astronauts into space? Sadly, that’s been the current state of our space program. But in the spirit of making one extra, giant leap for mankind, our nation’s best and brightest aeronautic minds have been quietly working on a propulsion system designed to power the SLS and its Orion spacecraft payload deeper into the cosmos. NASA’s been testing these next-gen J-2X rockets since last year, proving their ability to “[achieve] full flight-duration firing of 500 seconds” at sea-level and, now, in a series of second round testing, the engines will be put through their paces at high altitudes. The first of 16 planned tests are scheduled to kick off this Wednesday at the agency’s Stennis Center in Mississippi and should run through to year-end. Check out the official presser after the break for a fuller breakdown of this evolution in galactic travel.