NASA has put plans in motion to build the largest and most powerful rocket the world has ever seen. It sounds like the beginning of a new Bond film, but the agency said it’s moving forward with a new Space Launch System capable of lifting up to 286,000 pounds. The first manned launch is tentatively scheduled for 2021, which will see the SLS propel a new spacecraft, known as Orion, to either a nearby asteroid or the moon. If successful, NASA’s SLS could even be used for a Mars mission. Similar to the Saturn V rocket used for previous Apollo missions, NASA’s SLS rocket could weigh as much as 143 tons, and be able to lift over 286,000 pounds. On a slightly less immense scale, NASA is also envisioning a 77 ton, 154,000 pound SLS.
A new era of space exploration — supported by a history-making new mega-rocket and a spacecraft designed to deliver humans into deep space — could be on the horizon for NASA. The space agency is gearing up to build the largest and most powerful rocket in history. The huge launcher, called the Space Launch System (SLS), will move a new spacecraft dubbed Orion, designed to send up to four astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. A short list of destinations includes the moon, nearby asteroids and, eventually, Mars. Everyone is looking forward to 2021, the year when the first manned launch will occur. But before that happens, the rocket and spacecraft will have to pass a number of tests. NASA’s SLS rocket might remind some space fans of the mighty Saturn V rocket used to launch Apollo moon landing flights in the 1960s and 1970s; however, the new launcher will be more powerful. NASA currently envisions the SLS in two configurations: one weighing 77 tons and able to lift more than 154,000 pounds, another weighing 143 tons and able to lift more than 286,000 pounds.