Everything we know about NASA's Space Launch System
What the Future
Welcome to What The Future.
This week, I wanna talk about what's arguably NASA's biggest project right now, you probably know that NASA is shooting to get back to the moon by 2024.
And they need a rocket powerful enough to get them there.
They don't have that right now.
That's why they're building the Space Launch System or SLS.
This is already a decade in the making, and when it's finished, it's gonna be the most powerful rocket in the world, and will essentially be the linchpin in NASA's Artemis program.
That's the follow up to the Apollo program from the 60s and 70s.
In Greek mythology, Artemis was the goddess of the Moon and Apollo's twin sister.
SLS will be NASA's first deep space rocket built since the Saturn V, which was used back in those Apollo missions.
It's designed to carry this.
This is the Orion spacecraft.
It's what will actually carry astronauts to the moon, and hopefully, Mars.
So why does the SLS have to be so powerful?
At the risk of getting some thanks captain obvious jokes, the moon is a long way away.
It's about a thousand times further than the International Space Station.
And he Orion needs to hit about twenty four thousand miles per hour to break out of lower earth obit and reach the moon.
To make this happen, SLS has to be strong enough to perform a maneuver called a TRANSLUNAR INJECTION.So it's essentially going from a circular orbit to an eccentric orbit all time to target the moon while it's orbiting the Earth.
But what really makes SLS so cool is it's modular design.
That means NASA can essentially mix and match parts depending on the mission goals and replace certain pieces as that tech improves over time.
The first version of SLS is expected to launch next year as an unmanned mission to To test the Orion.
That's what we'll know as Artemis One and the plan is to send the uncrewed Orion on a 25 day journey that will get it within 62 miles of the Moon's surface.
All right, so let's talk core stage.
That's being built by Boeing and this thing is impressive.
When it's finished it's gonna stand more than 200 feet tall and have a diameter more than 27 feet Inside you're gonna find the 730,000 gallons of super cool hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
That's gonna fuel those engines.
Now speaking of the engines there's gonna be four of them.
They're called RS-25s, and they're made by a company in Sacramento called Aerojet Rocketdyne.
The RS-25 is the same model that powered NASA's old shuttle program, though these have been modified for the SLS.
Combined, all four engines will produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust.
Next, we've got the two solid rocket boosters.
These are coming from North [INAUDIBLE}, and also get an upgrade from the original shuttle design.
Those go from a four segment booster to a five, for some extra thrust.
In fact, 75 percent of the thrust at launch will come from these boosters.
Though unlike the shuttle design, these boosters are just built for a single use.
And because of the SLS's modular design, these are one of those parts that's expected to be swapped out as booster technology advances.
All right, so what's next for SLS?
There are obviously a ton of moving parts here.
Right now, the core stage is four-fifths of the way done.
Boeing expects to have it complete later this year.
Then it gets shipped to NASA's [UNKNOWN] Space Flight Centre in Mississippi for testing.
Also worth noting, in early July NASA plans to launch a test version or the Orion.
The plan is to send it up six miles to test the launch abort system, which of course is there to get the capsule and crew to safety if something happens During an ascent on SLS.
So really the big question is, will the SLS be ready to get us back to the moon by 2024?
And honestly, no one can really answer that right now.
NASA has already fallen behind schedule a few times.
And earlier this year, NASA's chief even at one point said, using a private company like SpaceX was the best bet to hit that 2024 deadline.
Now he sits back off that and says SLS is the only system that can really do it.
But the one thing we do know.
According to him, it's not going to happen if Congress doesn't approve the additional $1.6 billion in funding the Trump administration has requested for Artemis.
That's gonna do it for this week.
I'm Andy Altman.
Thanks for watching.I'll see you in the future.
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