After the announcement of huge funding in Deep Space Exploration from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2011, it was always NASA’s priority mission to develop an advanced launch vehicle for a new era of exploration beyond Earth’s orbit into deep space. Space Launch System (SLS), the world’s most powerful rocket ever built, will launch humans in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on missions to an asteroid and Mars. It will also open new possibilities for other scientific missions involving robots to places like Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter.
As described in the report, the configuration of SLS will be as follows:
The initial Block 1 configuration of SLS will stand 322 feet tall, higher than the Statue of Liberty, and weigh 5.75 million pounds fueled. It will produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equivalent to more than 160,000 Corvette engines. The Block 1 configuration will provide 15 percent more thrust at launch than the Saturn V rocket and carry more than three times the mass of the space shuttle.
Despite its many advantages over other rockets, one can’t ignore the huge cost of building as well as the single mission cost (1 billion USD). There might be one or two flights maximum within a year to bear the cost.
The progress of SLS is quite outstanding at present. The scientists and engineers are working extremely hard to make it success anticipating the needs of future missions and crews. The first mission is projected in the year of 2019. So buckle up for the journey to the Deep Space beyond the Solar System.