NASA's next-generation rocket, a behemoth of a booster expected to launch astronauts deeper into space than ever before, has passed a major design milestone, space agency officials announced Wednesday.
The new mega-rocket, called the Space Launch System, passed a series of reviews that laid out the technical, performance, cost and schedule requirements for the heavy-lift booster. The completion of the so-called System Requirements Review and System Definition Review allows program managers to proceed into the rocket's preliminary design phase, NASA officials said.
The first test flight of NASA's Space Launch System, which will feature a configuration for a 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity, is scheduled for 2017. As SLS evolves, a three-stage launch vehicle configuration will provide a lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons) to enable missions beyond low Earth orbit and support deep space exploration.
An expanded view of an artist rendering of the 70-metric-ton configuration of NASA's Space Launch System. (NASA)
An expanded view of an artist rendering of the 130 metric ton configuration of NASA's Space Launch System. (NASA)
NASA Marshall’s Foundations of Influence, Relationships, Success &
Teamwork (FIRST) employees and student interns, "Future Frontier"
discusses the new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift launch vehicle
and its importance to furthering NASA's exploration mission. NASA FIRST
is the Agency's leadership program for promising young professionals.