NASA Approves Construction of the World's Most Powerful Rocket
For all the super-cool and otherworldly space vehicle that NASA dreams up, only a small percentage of them ever make it off the drawing board and onto the production line. The next generation Space Launch System is now part of that select few, having completed NASA's review process and been found worthy of development.
NASA announced the the verdict of what's known as Key Decision Point C, the final review before a program transitions from the initial, conceptual "formulation" phase to the implementation phase, wherein the actual bits and pieces of the spacecraft are constructed. The KDP-C establishes a baseline program cost, £4.2 billion, based on NASA's Best Practices data and sets a chronological limit on that baseline of November, 2018.
In fact, the SLS is the only exploration-class vehicle to make it out of the formulation phase and into development since the space shuttle. This is a huge deal for NASA's proposed missions to Mars and for human space exploration in general. "Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and we owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right," said Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, who oversaw the review process, in a review statement. "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."
Space Launch System