Nasa have said they are ‘firmly committed’ to building the world’s biggest rocket to take man to Mars. Although the agency might not be able to pay for the project, company has still completed a detailed review of the Space Launch System (SLS). SLS will be 384 feet tall and shall be able to generate 9.2 million pounds of thrust at liftoff and weighs in at 6.5 million pounds. Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator says; ‘We are on a journey of scientific and human exploration that leads to Mars. And we’re firmly committed to building the launch vehicle and other supporting systems that will take us on that journey.’
The first flight test configuration of SLS shall have a 77 ton lift capacity and will carry an un-screwed Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit. For the SLS’s extreme configuration, it will be able to come up with lift capacity of about 143 tons that will allow for missions to dwell deeper into solar system which will be able to reach asteroids and Mars.
The decision has been made after a detailed review known as Key Decision Point C (KDP-C) has been completed. KDP-C basically comes up with a development cost baseline for the first flight test configuration of SLS of $7.021 billion from February 2014 through the 1stlaunch and a schedule for launch readiness that has been based on an initial SLS flight which will take place in November 2018.
Associative Administrator Robert Lightfoot who oversaw the review process said; ‘Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and we owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right. After rigorous review, we’re committing today to a funding level and readiness date that will keep us on track to sending humans to Mars in the 2030s – and we’re going to stand behind that commitment.’
William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for the Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, says; ‘The Space Launch System Program has done exemplary work during the past three years to get us to this point. We will keep the teams working toward a more ambitious readiness date, but will be ready no later than November 2018.’
According to NASA the mega-rocket has been so loud that it can even damage the nearby buildings and even the hearing of astronauts. The small scale rocket trial tests are being carried out. NASA says; ‘A 5-percent scale model, including solid rocket motors, of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is ignited to test how low- and high-frequency sound waves will affect the rocket on the launch pad. The data collected from the tests will be used to help direct and verify the design of the rocket’s sound suppression system.’
Further reports by NASA state; ‘This may have the potential to damage structures or harm personnel in the immediate vicinity of the test stand.’ Steve Wofford, SLS Liquid Engines Element Manager in regard to the engines state; ‘This test series is a major milestone because it will be our first opportunity to operate the engine with a new controller and to test propellant inlet conditions for SLS that are different than the space shuttle.’