The Space Launch System, or 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.
Additionally, the SLS will serve as a back up for commercial and international
partner transportation services to the International Space Station. "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. "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, tomorrow's
explorers will now dream of one day walking on Mars."
This specific architecture was selected, largely because it utilizes an evolvable development approach, which allows NASA to address high-cost development activities early on in the program and take advantage of higher buying power before inflation erodes the available funding of a fixed budget. This architecture also enables NASA to leverage existing capabilities and lower development costs by using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for both the core and upper stages. Additionally, this architecture provides a modular launch vehicle that can be configured for specific mission needs using a variation of common elements. NASA may not need to lift 130 metric tons for each mission and the flexibility of this modular architecture allows the agency to use different core stage, upper stage, and first-stage booster combinations to achieve the most efficient launch vehicle for the desired mission.
"NASA has been making steady progress toward realizing the president's goal of deep space exploration, while doing so in a more affordable way," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said. "We have been driving down the costs on the Space Launch System and Orion contracts by adopting new ways of doing business and project hundreds of millions of dollars of savings each year."
The Space Launch System will be NASA's first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V took American astronauts to the moon over 40 years ago. With its superior lift capability, 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. We will learn more about how the solar system formed, where Earth's 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. These discoveries will change the way we understand ourselves, our planet, and its place in the universe.
Space Launch Systems News