WASHINGTON — NASA has released the acquisition overview for the Space Launch System (SLS). SLS is an entirely new advanced, heavy-lift launch vehicle that will take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before, create high-quality jobs here at home and provide the cornerstone for America’s future human space exploration efforts.
This new heavy-lift rocket – in combination with the Orion crew capsule already under development, increased support for the commercialization of astronaut travel to low Earth orbit, an extension of activities on the International Space Station until at least 2020, and a fresh focus on new technologies – is key to implementing the plan laid out by President Obama and Congress in the bipartisan 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which the president signed last year.
The booster will be America’s most powerful since the Saturn V rocket that carried Apollo astronauts to the moon and will launch humans to places no one has gone before. The rocket will give the nation a safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching beyond our current range of space exploration. It will open new discoveries from unique vantage points and destinations far from Earth.
The SLS will carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and its astronaut crew, cargo, equipment and science experiments to an asteroid by the middle of the next decade and then to Mars.
The specific architecture was selected after analysis of the combination of technologies that would effectively meet the SLS capability requirements. The architecture also uses an evolvable development approach. This type of approach allows NASA to address high-cost development activities early on in the program while taking advantage of higher buying power before inflation erodes the available funding in a fixed budget.
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