The Space Launch System (SLS) is an American Space Shuttle-derived heavy expendable launch vehicle. It is part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans including a manned mission to Mars.
What is the Space Launch System (SLS)?
SLS follows the cancellation of the Constellation program, and is to replace the retired Space Shuttle. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 envisions the transformation of the Constellation program’s Ares I and Ares Vvehicle designs into a single launch vehicle usable for both crew and cargo, similar to the Ares IV. The SLS is to be the most powerful rocket ever built with a total thrust greater than that of the Saturn V, putting the Space Launch System into the super heavy-lift launch vehicle class of rockets.
The SLS launch vehicle is to be upgraded over time with more powerful versions. Its initial Block 1 version is to lift a payload of 70 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), which will be increased with the debut of Block 1B and the Exploration Upper Stage. Block 2 will replace the initial Shuttle-derived boosters with advanced boosters and is planned to have a LEO capability of more than 130 metric tons to meet the congressional requirement.
These upgrades will allow the SLS to lift astronauts and hardware to destinations beyond LEO: on a circumlunar trajectory as part of Exploration Mission 1 with Block 1; to deliver the first element of the Deep Space Gateway (DSG) in Exploration Mission 2 with Block 1B; and to Mars with Block 2. The SLS will launch the Orion Crew and Service Module and may support trips to the International Space Station if necessary. SLS will use the ground operations and launch facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
Image: NASA / MSFC
Text: Wikipedia contributors. “Space Launch System.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 Jul. 2017. Web. 2 Aug. 2017