Current NASA Space Launch System

Space Launch System

The Space Launch System (SLS) is a United States Space Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle being designed by NASA. It follows the cancellation of the Constellation program, and is to replace the retired Space Shuttle. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 envisions the transformation of the Constellation program’s Ares I and Ares V vehicle designs into a single launch vehicle usable for both crew and cargo.

The SLS launch vehicle is to be upgraded over time with more powerful versions. Its initial Block I version is to lift a payload of 70 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), which will be increased with the debut of Block IB and the Exploration Upper Stage.[4] Block II will replace the initial Shuttle-derived boosters with advanced boosters and is planned to have a LEO capability of more than 130 metric tons to meet the congressional requirement;[5] this would make the SLS the most capable heavy lift vehicle ever built.[6][7]

These upgrades will allow the SLS to lift astronauts and hardware to various beyond-LEO destinations: on a circumlunar trajectory as part of Exploration Mission 1 with Block I, to a near-Earth asteroid in Exploration Mission 2 with Block IB, and to Mars with Block II. The SLS will launch the Orion Crew and Service Module and may support trips to the International Space Station if necessary. SLS will use the ground operations and launch facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Function Launch vehicle
Country of origin United States
Cost per launch () US$500 million (2012)[1]
Diameter 8.4 m (330 in) (core stage)
Stages 2
Payload to
70,000 to 130,000 kg (150,000 to 290,000 lb)
Associated rockets
Family Shuttle-Derived Launch Vehicles
Launch history
Status Undergoing development
Launch sites LC-39, Kennedy Space Center
First flight No later than November 2018[2]
Notable payloads Orion MPCV
Boosters (Block I)
Noboosters 2 Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters
Engines 1
Thrust 16,000 kN (3,600,000 lbf)
Total thrust 32,000 kN (7,200,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 269 seconds (2.64 km/s)
Burn time 124 seconds
First Stage (Block I, IB, II) – Core Stage
Diameter 8.4 m (330 in)
Empty mass 85,270 kg (187,990 lb)
Gross mass 979,452 kg (2,159,322 lb)
Engines 4 RS-25D/E[3]
Thrust 7,440 kN (1,670,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 363 seconds (3.56 km/s) (sea level), 452 seconds (4.43 km/s) (vacuum)
Fuel LH2/LOX
Second Stage (Block I) – ICPS
Length 13.7 m (540 in)
Diameter 5 m (200 in)
Empty mass 3,490 kg (7,690 lb)
Gross mass 30,710 kg (67,700 lb)
Engines 1 RL10B-2
Thrust 110.1 kN (24,800 lbf)
Specific impulse 462 seconds (4.53 km/s)
Burn time 1125 seconds
Fuel LH2/LOX
Second Stage (Block IB, Block II) – Exploration Upper Stage
Engines 4 RL10
Thrust 440 kN (99,000 lbf)
Fuel LH2/LOX

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