NASA Reveals Massive Mars Rocket Plans

New $35B project could launch up to 165 tons into space
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2011 12:54 PM CDT
This NASA illustration shows the design for a new space rocket system, the Space Launch System.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – NASA today unveiled plans for a rocket that will power the next generation of space exploration, designed to take manned missions to distant asteroids and eventually Mars, reports. The uncreatively named “Space Launch System,” or SLS, uses bits of technology from the defunct space shuttle and Constellation projects, but actually bears a stronger resemblance to the old Apollo craft than the shuttle, the AP reports, since it uses a mix of liquid hydrogen and oxygen instead of a solid rocket booster.

Initially the rockets will be able to haul between 77 and 110 tons into space, including a six-person Orion vehicle—less than the 130 tons the Saturn V booster from the Apollo program could manage, but a far cry above the shuttle’s 27 ton capacity. NASA hopes to have its first test flight in the sky by 2017. The rocket has been embroiled in budget controversy, with reports putting its price tag as high as $65 billion, but officials say it will actually cost around $35 billion.

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