Nasa has successfully tested the biggest rocket ever made which the US space agency hopes will one day launch manned missions as far as Mars.

The Space Launch System (SLS) booster, named QM-1, was test-fired for the first time in the Utah desert in the United States on 11 March. The two-minute test simulated the same amount of time it would fire to lift the SLS off the launch pad, producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust. There are plans for a second test before it is sent off to Nasa's Cape Kennedy space centre in Florida for it's first flight.

"The work being done around the country today to build SLS is laying a solid foundation for future exploration missions, and these missions will enable us to pioneer far into the solar system," said William Gerstenmaier, Nasa's associate administrator for human exploration and operations.

It marks the first time in decades that the space agency has made a rocket powerful enough for manned missions to the moon and beyond. Once shipped to Cape Kennedy, it will be tested using the Orion spacecraft that Nasa plans to carry humans to Mars.