Most powerful rocket ever edges closer to lift-off
NASA's Space LaunchSystem (SLS) has completed its critical design review – a major steppingstone on the way to becoming certified for manned spaceflight. Oncecomplete, the SLS will be the most powerful launch vehicle everconstructed, capable of taking humans to hitherto unreachabledestinations including a manned mission Mars.
The review took 11weeks, and saw 13 teams of NASA engineers and scientists review over1,000 documents in order to determine whether the gargantuan rocket concept was ready to transition into full-scale production.The design review has now been submitted to a Standing Review Boardcomposed of experts independent of the program.
The next step will beto present the results of the board to the Marshall's CenterManagement Council, and then the Human Exploration and OperationsMission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.
The 2015 criticaldesign review is only effective for the first of three planned SLSvariations. The first iteration is known as Block 1, which will standan impressive 322 ft (98 m) tall and boast four RS-25engines similar to those used in the shuttle program, along with two sidemounted 177 ft (54 m) long solid fuel boosters.
The maximum thrust fromthe combined liquid and solid fuel engines will amount to 8.4 millionpounds, and allow for a payload capacity of 77 tons. The third andmost powerful version of the rocket will stand an incredible 384 ft (117 m) tall,with a maximum thrust 20 percent greater than that of the Saturn Vrocket that dominated the Apollo era.