Create a free account to continue

Photos Of The Day: Designing The World's Most Powerful Rocket

It will be the most powerful rocket ever built for a new era of exploration beyond Earth’s orbit.

Mnet 47104 Rocket 21

You know the feeling of pride and achievement when you've worked really hard on a term paper, and finally turn it in? That's how the critical design review team for NASA's Space Launch System is feeling this week as the program completed its review.

Read More: NASA's Space Launch System Design 'Right on Track' for Journey to Mars

The in-depth review – the first in almost 40 years for a NASA exploration class vehicle - provides a final look at the design and development of the integrated rocket before full-scale fabrication begins. Throughout the course of 11 weeks, 13 teams – including representatives from several NASA field centers – reviewed more than 1,000 files of data as part of the comprehensive assessment process.

SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for a new era of exploration to destinations beyond Earth’s orbit. It will launch astronauts in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on missions to an asteroid placed in lunar orbit, and eventually to Mars.

In the above photo, NASA's Space Launch System Program Manager Todd May and others on the critical design review team pore over hundreds of design and development documents on the SLS Block 1 configuration. The top photo shows an artist's concept of the SLS Block 1 configuration.

The critical design review is for the first of three configurations planned for SLS, referred to as SLS Block 1. It will stand 322 feet tall, provide 8.4 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, weigh 5.5 million pounds and carry 70 metric tons or 154,000 pounds of payload, equivalent to approximately 77 one-ton pickup trucks’ worth of cargo.

Its first mission - Exploration Mission-1 - will launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to demonstrate the integrated system performance of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft before a crewed flight.

In the above photo, the critical design review team, including members of the Standing Review Board, listen to presentations during the SLS critical design review.

More in Aerospace