NASA's Space Launch System will be the largest rocket ever made

Interesting Engineering

The Space Launch System by NASA is currently under development and is set to be the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. And according to the team who spoke at the Space Tech Expo recently, it is on course for its first test flight as early as 2018.

article-2540140-1AB083F300000578-681_634x356[Image Source: NASA]

As private space travel companies such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are slowly taking over the low-Earth orbit level of space travel, NASA are pushing to get astronauts deeper into space than we've ever been.

Standing at 384 feet tall (the Saturn V was 363 feet) and weighing 6.5 million pounds, the super rocket will be able to take a payload of 143 tons (130 metric tons) into orbit.

article-0-1AB083C200000578-537_634x339[Image Source: NASA]

"We started working on Space Launch System concepts 10 years ago," said former astronaut David Leestma, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, who now heads the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "We want to take NASA well beyond the space station. The SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built, and it will be safe, affordable and sustainable."

It is being said that the rocket may drive us towards manned missions to Mars by the 2030's. It is also hoped that the rocket will be used to transport astronauts to orbit around asteroids and also eventually go on to reach Saturn and Jupiter.

article-2540140-1AB0840B00000578-179_634x474[Image Source: NASA]

"For missions to the outer planets, for example, SLS could make it possible to do things that are currently impossible, such as sending larger scientific spacecraft with more instruments to far off destinations with reduced transit times," said Steve Creech, assistant program manager for strategy and partnerships for SLS.

The new rocket will remove a lot of restrictions on designers of satellies and other equipment that requires to be sent into outer space. Creech goes on to explain how the space shuttle allowed NASA to get the Hubble telescope into orbit which was the size of a bus but the new SLS will allow the carraige of a telescope that's the size of the space shuttle that carried the Hubble.

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