NASA SLS Rocket facts and specifications

NASA SLS rocket

NASA SLS rocket

SLS rocket will be the largest rocket since the Apollo Saturn V.

NASA issued a report NASA’s Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle persuent to Section 309 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267). We have listed some of the highlights and facts about the SLS and NASA directors statement from this report.

With the President’s signing of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 on October 11, 2010, NASA has a clear direction and is making plans for moving the Agency forward. Guidance from the Administrator has established three principles for development of any future systems for exploration. These systems must be affordable, sustainable, and realistic. By definition, affordability implies we will remain under the mandated funding curve at all points in the life cycle (out years) of resultant systems and it is essential that any design selected be affordable over the long-term. This means that not only should the operation of the vehicles fit within a realistic budget profile, but also that enough room must be left in the profile to develop other key elements of the exploration architecture and ultimately conduct meaningful missions.

For the SLS, the Agency has decided to use a Reference Vehicle Design that is derived from Ares and Shuttle hardware, given the Congressional direction and that our initial studies have shown that development cost is not a major discriminator in the near-term when it comes to varying heavy-lift configurations. The current concept vehicles would utilize a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen (LOX/LH2) core with five RS-25 Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME)-derived engines, five-segment solid rocket boosters, and a J-2X based Upper Stage for the SLS. This would allow for use of existing Shuttle and Ares hardware assets in the near term, with the opportunity for upgrades and/or competition downstream for eventual upgrades in designs needed for affordable production.

Space Launch System (SLS) Configurations

Space Launch System (SLS) Configurations

The Act also provides a series of minimum capabilities that the SLS vehicle must achieve:

  • The vehicle must be able to initially lift 70-100 tons to LEO, and must be evolvable to 130 tons or more
  • The vehicle must be able to lift a MPCV
  • The vehicle must be capable of serving as a backup system for supplying and supporting cargo and crew delivery requirements for the International Space Station (ISS) in the event such requirements are not met by available commercial or partner-supplied vehicles.

Initial Lift Capability 70 Tonnes (t)

  • 320 Feet tall
  • More than Double Any Operational Vehicle Today
  • Crew Configuration
  • The SLS will transport the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle to entirely new destinations beyond Earth orbit, continuing America’s human exploration of space.
SLS Versions

SLS Versions

Evolved Lift Capability 130t

  • 389 feet tall
  • More lift than Any Past, Present, or Future Vehicle
  • Cargo Configuration
  • The flexible SLS can carry cargo, equipment, and science experiments to destinations beyond Earth orbit. This heavy-lift capability will be available to support missions of national importance

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