NASA’s most powerful rocket ever aims for deep space exploration
As NASA continues to plan for future asteroid-capturing missions and excursions to Mars, the space agency has approved the development of what’s being billed as the most powerful rocket ever.
Researchers and engineers at NASA and Boeing have been pouring over the design of the new Space Launch System for years now, but on Wednesday it was announced that the two had reached a $2.8 billion agreement that will have the rocket ready for its first take-off in 2017.
If successful, the first version of the Space Launch System (SLS) will stand 321 feet tall and be able to lift 154,000 pounds into low-Earth orbit, with a second, 384-foot version capable of lifting 286,000 pounds, including a capsule-shaped Orion spacecraft with astronauts inside. The second flight is expected to take place in 2021.