Aviation Company Boeing has been offered a $2.8bn contract by NASA to build the most powerful rocket in history t propel astronauts to the moon and other deeper planets.
In addition to being responsible for developing the core stage, including the Avionics, Boeing should also take care of studying the SLS Exploration Upper Stage, which will further expand mission range and payload capabilities.
“Our teams have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the SLS — the largest ever — will be built safely, affordably and on time,” promised Virginia Barnes, Boeing’s Space Launch System vice president and program manager.
‘We are passionate about NASA’s mission to explore deep space.
‘It’s a very personal mission, as well as a national mandate.
The deal was finalised after the space agency reviewed and approved Boeing’s SLS core stage. The first version, which is scheduled to launch in 2017 will stand 321 feet tall and weigh 5.5 million pounds pounds and is powered by four hydrogen-fueled engines left over from the now extinct space shuttle program.
The final evolved two-stage configuration will be 384 ft tall and weighs 6.5 million pounds. It is expected to launch in 2021 powered by J-2x engines and strap-on boosters.
‘While many people think of the Space Launch System in terms of human exploration, SLS could have a wide application in a lot of other areas, including space science,” said Steve Creech, assistant program manager for strategy and partnerships for SLS.
‘For as long as people have been launching rockets into space, mission designers have had to work within certain limitations – a spacecraft can only be so heavy and it has to fit within a certain width,” Creech said.
‘Depending on how large you make it, it can only go so fast, which in some cases limits where you can go.
‘With the space shuttle, for example, we were able to launch missions like NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope that were about the size of a school bus.
‘With SLS, you can design a spacecraft even larger than the space shuttle that carried Hubble.
‘It’s going to open up an entirely new way of thinking about how we plan and design planetary science missions.’
‘The Space Launch System could be really game-changing for space science,” said ACO manager Reggie Alexander.
‘For some missions, it makes it much easier and quicker to carry them out.
‘A Mars sample return mission, for example, could be flown using only one rocket instead of three.
‘But for other destinations, SLS lets you do things we could only dream of before – like collecting samples from the geysers of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.’
‘Today, if you want to send a mission to the outer planets, you have to be able to make it fit within that box. With SLS, we’re about to make that box much larger.
Via : Dailymail