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NASA Sets World’s Most Powerful Deep Space Rocket to Launch in 2018

deep space rocket

Image credit: NASA/MSFC. Artist concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration launching to space.

According to NASA Administrator Charles Boden in a recent news release , the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful exploration rocket in the world, will be launched in its first test mission by November 2018. The SLS is designed to take human on the further scientific exploration that leads to Mars, which have never been done before.

Although the project of the Space Launch System has been going on for nearly three years, official approval was just given not long ago after a rigorous review in regard to its cost and production. The review, also known as Key Decision Point C (KDP-C), finalized the baseline cost of $7.021 billion to develop a smaller version of the SLS, weighing 70-metric-ton. Such version would be targeted on the flight test, named as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), and would carry an unmanned Orion spacecraft in a three-week mission beyond low-Earth orbit.

As part of a separately developed project, the Orion vehicle was intended to piggyback on the SLS and get people to Mars during the journey lasting for several months. In December this year, Orion’s first test flight would be realized atop a ULA Delta IV Heavy booster during the Exploration Flight Test-1 mission.

The first manned flight of the SLS, EM-1 would be expected to take place around 2020/2021 and it could visit an asteroid at first.

With tallness of 122 meters and lift capability of 143 tons, the final version of the SLS would be the world’s most powerful rocket by far. Therefore it could allow us to explore our solar system further than we had done ever before. The total development cost of SLS, including production of its three versions, would be amazing $12 billion.

As NASA has set a test flight date, which is no later than the end of 2018, possibly the rocket would be expected to be launched at an earlier date of December 2017, because such conservative estimate would give sometime to the issues of scheduling and funding, whcih should be considered over the next few years.

As Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a news release, the United States had embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and NASA should be grateful to the American taxpayers so as to get it right. After the very careful review, NASA has made its commitment to be ready for sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.

The Government Accountability Office has shown the concerns about the development schedule and funding plan and suggested that the project might need more $400 million in spending. So NASA would consider such suggestions in details and find possible approaches to address these recommendations.

Source:  AFPspace.comNASA and Universe Today