Space Launch System

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An artist's picture of the Space Launch System flying

The Space Launch System (SLS) is a NASA rocket.[1][2] It is a heavy-lift launch vehicle.[1][2] It is the most powerful rocket ever built.[1] The SLS is a replacement for the retired Space Shuttle.[1] Many parts are modified versions of parts designed for the Space Shuttle. Others are new designs.

The first flight of the SLS will be in June 2020.[1][2] However, the first crewed (carrying men) flight will be in January 2023.

Types[change | change source]

The different kinds of Space Launch System

The Space Launch System comes in many different types meant to launch different kinds of missions.

Block 1A[change | change source]

The least powerful kind of the SLS is the Block 1A. The core stage will use the parts of the Space Shuttle External Tank. It will also use four Space Shuttle Main Engines. The rocket boosters are connected to the sides are the 5-segment Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters. The top stage will use is the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS).

Block 1B[change | change source]

Block 1B is like the Block 1A, but the top stage will change with Exploration Upper Stage (EUS).

Block 2[change | change source]

Block 2 is like Block 1B, but the 5-segment SRBs will be changed with advanced boosters.

Payload mass in different orbits[change | change source]

SLS variant Payload mass to … (kilogram)
low Earth orbit (160-2,000 km) trans-lunar injection (400,000 km) heliocentric orbit (more than 695,700 km)
Block 1A 95,000 kg[3] 26,000 kg[3] 4,000 kg
Block 1B 105,000 kg[4] 37,000 kg[3] 15,000 kg
Block 2 130,000 kg[5] 67,000 kg 45,000 kg[3]

Missions[change | change source]

Name Type Crew Launch date Status Duration Destination Purpose References
Exploration Mission 1 Block 1A Crew N/A June 2020 Planned 25.5 days Distant retrograde lunar orbit Send Orion spacecraft to fly around the Moon, send 13 CubeSats. [6][7][8][9][10][11][12]
Exploration Mission 2 Block 1A Crew 4 people January 2023 Planned 9 days Lunar flyby Similar to EM-1 but crewed. [12][13][14][15][16][17]
Europa Clipper Block 1A Cargo N/A 2023 Planned 6 years Jovian orbit Flagship-class robotic spacecraft to meet Europa[18][19]
Exploration Mission 3 Block 1B Crew 4 people 2024 Planned 30 days L2 Southern Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO) Send European System Providing Refuelling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications (ESPRIT), the U.S. Utilization Module to LOP-G
Exploration Mission 4 Block 1B Crew 4 people 2025[20] Planned 26-42 days[12] L2 Southern NRHO Send International Partner Habitat to LOP-G[20]
Exploration Mission 5 Block 1B Crew 4 people 2026[20] Planned 26-42 days[12] L2 Southern NRHO Send U.S. Habitat to LOP-G[20]
Exploration Mission 6 Block 1B Crew 4 people 2026 Planned 26-42 days[12] L2 Southern NRHO Send airlock module to LOP-G[20]
Exploration Mission 7 Block 1B Cargo N/A 2027 Planned L2 Southern NRHO Send Deep Space Transport (DST) vehicle to LOP-G[20]
Exploration Mission 8 Block 1B Crew 4 people 2027 Planned 191–221 days L2 Southern NRHO LOP-G checkout[20]
Exploration Mission 9 Block 1B Cargo N/A 2028 Planned L2 Southern NRHO LOP-G Cargo logistics and refueling[20]
Exploration Mission 10 Block 2 Crew 4 people 2029 Planned 1 year L2 Southern NRHO LOP-G long-time test (Shakedown cruise, 300–400 days)[20]
Exploration Mission 11 Block 2 Cargo N/A 2030+ Planned L2 Southern NRHO LOP-G Cargo logistics and refueling[20]
Exploration Mission 12 Block 2 Crew 4 people 2030+ Planned 2 years Mars orbit Interplanetary flight[20]
Name Type Crew Launch date Status Duration Destination Purpose
Exploration Mission 2 Block 1B Crew 4 people Late 2022 Payload will be launched in commercial launcher 16-26 days[12] Lunar halo orbit Send Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) as the first module of the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G).[16][20]
2026 Cancelled Lunar orbit Send astronauts to send back samples from a captured asteroid[21][22]
Exploration Mission 6 Block 1B Crew 4 people 2024 Payload will be launched in commercial launcher[23] 26-42 days[12] L2 Southern NRHO First logistics module supply mission and send the robotic arm to LOP-G.[20]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "NASA unveils super rocket", BBC Focus Magazine, Bristol Magazines (235), p. 17, November 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "NASA unveils mega rocket", How it Works, Imagine Publishing (26), pp. 6–7, 2011-10-06
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Harbaugh, Jennifer (9 July 2018). "The Great Escape: SLS Provides Power for Missions to the Moon". NASA. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  4. "Space Launch System" (PDF). NASA Facts. NASA. 11 October 2017. FS-2017-09-92-MSFC. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  5. Creech, Stephen (April 2014). "NASA's Space Launch System: A Capability for Deep Space Exploration" (PDF). NASA. p. 2. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  6. Clark, Stephen (20 November 2017). "NASA expects first Space Launch System flight to slip into 2020". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  7. Hambleton, Kathryn. "Exploration Mission-1 Map". NASA. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  8. "NASA Completes Key Review of World's Most Powerful Rocket in Support". NASA. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  9. "Acronyms to Ascent – SLS managers create development milestone roadmap". Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  10. "NASA's Space Launch System to Boost Science with Secondary Payloads". NASA's Marshall Center. April 2, 2015 – via YouTube.
  11. "Near Earth Asteroid Scout (NEAScout)". JPL | Cubesat.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Gebhardt, Chris (22 September 2017). "SLS EM-1 & -2 launch dates realign; EM-3 gains notional mission outline". Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  13. Hambleton, Kathryn. "NASA's First Flight With Crew Important Step on Long-term Return to the Moon, Missions to Mars". NASA. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  14. Daines, Gary (December 1, 2016). "First Flight With Crew Will Mark Important Step on Journey to Mars". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  15. Smith, Marcia (March 28, 2017). "NASA Continues Journey to Mars Planning". Space Policy Online. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Foust, Jeff (10 March 2017). "NASA moving ahead with plans for cislunar human outpost". SpaceNews. Pocket Ventures, LLC. Archived from the original on 11 March 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  17. Sloss, Philip (December 4, 2017). "NASA evaluates EM-2 launch options for Lunar Orbital Platform - Gateway PPE". Retrieved 2017-12-08.
  18. "Additional $1.3 billion for NASA to fund next Mars rover, Europa mission -". Archived from the original on January 18, 2016.
  19. "A Lander for NASA's Europa Mission".
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 20.11 20.12 Gebhardt, Chris (April 6, 2017). "NASA finally sets goals, missions for SLS – eyes multi-step plan to Mars". Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  21. Foust, Jeff (March 25, 2015). "NASA Selects Boulder Option for Asteroid Redirect Mission". Space News. Retrieved 2015-03-27.
  22. Wall, Mike (April 10, 2013). "Inside NASA's Plan to Catch an Asteroid (Bruce Willis Not Required)". TechMediaNetwork. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  23. Warner, Cheryl (23 October 2018). "NASA Seeks Information for Gateway Cargo Delivery Services". NASA. Retrieved 27 October 2018.