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"It is designed for beyond low-Earth orbit exploration with humans," said Frank McCall, the deputy program manager from Boeing who called SLS "a mission that is long overdue." The first unmanned test flight is slated for late 2018. By 2021, the rocket is supposed to carry astronauts aboard the Orion space capsule built by Lockheed Martin.
"The first crewed mission … will be a mission that goes to the far side of the moon, literally farther than we've ever gone before in manned spacecraft," said NASA SLS manager Patrick Whipps.
This year alone, Congress is giving NASA $2 billion for SLS, and much of that funding is going to the core rocket built by Boeing. That core includes powerful liquid hydrogen and oxygen fuel tanks, which will give the first version of the rocket 8.5 million pounds of thrust.
"That's 31 747s at full power," said Boeing engineer Tony Castilleja. That thrust will be even greater in later versions. It also makes SLS the most powerful rocket in history. "This is the only rocket that can cut the time in half and double the science and double the exploration."
originally posted by: Saint Exupery
a reply to: lostbook
8.5 million pounds of thrust?! Awesome! That's considerably more than the 7.5 million pounds of the Saturn V's S-IC.
With that kind of heavy lift, we can launch things like large zero-G foundries to make all kinds of light-weight alloys, and electrophoresis labs to make advanced pharmaceuticals. Hell, we don't know 1/100th of what we will be able to do, but we can't do any of it until we have the means to get very large payloads into orbit.
This is a huge step.
What "Heavy Lift" looks like!