Space

Most powerful rocket ever edges closer to lift-off

Most powerful rocket ever edge...
Artists impression of the SLS on the launchpad
Artists impression of the SLS on the launchpad
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Artists impression of the SLS on the launchpad
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Artists impression of the SLS on the launchpad

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.

Source: NASA

13 comments
Derek Howe
This rocket is a massive waste of NASA's resources (time, money, people). They should be focusing on Scientific missions, satellites, advanced propulsion, etc. Not on a giant rocket that will cost WAY to much money because they will only be able to afford to launch it once every few years. It's impressive in its size, but that's about it. If your thinking...hmmmm, It looks like an Apollo style rocket (the Saturn V) and the space shuttle mixed together...that's because IT IS. It's not some fancy new tech, it's the same companies, making the same overprice & dated components. I think a super heavy rocket would be awesome, and with it, you would have new ideas for new missions...but it should be done with private companies...translation, Space X. Early next year they will launch their Heavy rocket...and if all goes well, they could build a super heavy rocket and still have it hit NASA's deadline, and it would cost a fraction of the price that this (future) boondoggle will cost. All the completed was a frickin "review", and it took 3 months and dozens of people to confirm that decades old tech still works. The ISS was stupid, and so is this rocket. BTW, I think NASA overall if a source for good, and they do accomplish amazing things, New Horizon has shown how good they are at their job. But giant wasteful projects (like this one) get under my skin.
mhpr262
Can't wait to see a video of that beast lifting off.
MarcFresco
That's bigger then the falcon heavy,? and for payload??, and cheaper,??
JBK
Thank you for the opportunity to comment! I've been a spacer and going downhill since Alan Shephard's suborbital flight in 1961. I was ten at the time, many others weren't....:)! The hindsight makes me sad though. For the U.S. it will be about half a century since the last astronauts left and returned from beyond low earth orbit.....I wish success for SLS development and hope to be around for the possibilities. In fact, the same is true for Newspace and other countries initiatives....Right now, I think we're vulnerable to either a last world war or nature caused extinction event...... ..I would find comfort in a massive world wide realization of what's at stake and a survival oriented response...The SLS and other technologies will be helpful. This message is brought to us by the future... Will we answer?
Old_Rider
I believe they are wasting their money on bigger is better tech. Smaller and reusable would be better. And if they would go to "some assemble required in space", it would save even more. Yes getting a bigger payload in NEO takes a large rocket, and it costs more per pound go get it there, but why does it always have to be big? Build a "space hanger" as it were and then construct a larger craft there, attaching the smaller modules sent up together and viola! a larger craft. Use said craft to tag a mineral rich asteroid, lock onto it, slow it down, put it in orbit around the moon. Then use the asteroid for fuel and a temporary home/base for planetary exploration.... use it up and then discard it... Well, in my mind it would work.... they are always rearranging stuff on the ISS, so maintenance in space is already proven.
GaryGray
I have been a space enthusiast since the days of Apollo and even though I was only 12 years old when President Nixon decided to cancel the Apollo program and replace it with the Space Shuttle, I knew then it was a mistake. The US invested over $50 billion in current equivalent dollars developing the Saturn V and the Apollo spacecraft, and yet, we through it all away after only a few missions. The Saturn V was a very capable and dependable workhorse, it would have made more sense to periodically upgrade the launch system and the Apollo design as technology improved. In the end, the Space Shuttle proved less efficient and more costly than the Saturn V. One Saturn V could launch as much mass into Earth orbit as 5 Shuttle missions could at one-fifth the cost. Each Shuttle mission cost approximately $1.5 billion while each Saturn V launch cost about the same. The difference is that the Saturn V could launch 5 times the payload mass as compared to the Shuttle. The SLS seems to be on the right track, each launch will cost about the same as one Shuttle mission and will ultimately be capable of launching 5 times the mass into Earth orbit as compared to the Shuttle. I cannot wait to see the first launch, God Speed!
Chizzy
another nasa project sure to design review itself into overbudget cancelation. its funding dependant on a congress who knows no science, and would rather spend the money on kickbacks, repaying donors, and pay raises.
Jeff Michelson
I'm with @mhpr262 on this one. Newer tech is needed to push smaller packages more frequently into NEO, using ISS as a dock and manufacturing platform. Why do we need to send everything necessary for a single mission up in one massive, and massively expensive, payload?
Nap
As another who grew up with our space program and then worked for Nasa for 30 years I feel nostalgic regarding this new vehicle. As a result of my searching for the real reason Nixon cancelled the Apollo program it becomes more and more obvious that we have had a parallel space program a decade before Apollo. Take a look at Gaiaim TV link http://www.gaiamtv.com/video/we-are-one#show/104881 and prepare to be informed about the real state of technology that we have developed and are using which is light years ahead of chemical propulsion system that I studied in College. Prepare to have your eyes opened. The future is ours is we believe in ourselves and stop believing the fear based propaganda that the establishment is producing.
Kevin Ritchey
Besides all of the variants possible, why fix something that ain't broke? Smaller, safer, and mag-lev for smaller payloads more frequently if anything new. Saturn V works great for everything else.