September 14, 2011
NASA Developing Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle
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NASA announced plans on Wednesday to develop an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle which will be able to start launching in 2017.
The Space Launch System (SLS) will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth's orbit and destinations beyond, according to a NASA.
"This launch system will create good-paying American jobs, ensure continued U.S. leadership in space, and inspire millions around the world," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.
"President Obama challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that's exactly what we are doing at NASA. While I was proud to fly on the space shuttle, kids today can now dream of one day walking on Mars."
The new rocket's technology will use advancements made in NASA's Space Shuttle program and its Constellation program.
It will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, as well as solid rocket boosters for the initial development flights, according to the space agency.
The SLS will have an initial lift capacity of 154,323 pounds, but has the capability to be able to evolve to carry 286,600 pounds.
This will be NASA's first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V took astronauts to the moon 40 years ago.
"The SLS will expand our reach in the solar system and allow us to explore cis-lunar space, near-Earth asteroids, Mars and its moons and beyond," NASA said in a statement.
"We will learn more about how the solar system formed, where Earth' water and organics originated and how life might be sustained in places far from our Earth's atmosphere and expand the boundaries of human exploration."
Image 1: Artist concept of SLS launching. (NASA)
Image 2: Artist concept of SLS on launchpad. (NASA)
Image 3: Artist concept of future destinations. (NASA)
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