Issue #1(27) 2021 Specials

Building SLS - a contractual odyssey

SLS in the configuration that will send astronauts to the Moon on the Artemis missions. For the rocket’s first flight it is planned to send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft in an orbit beyond the Moon.
SLS in the configuration that will send astronauts to the Moon on the Artemis missions. For the rocket’s first flight it is planned to send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft in an orbit beyond the Moon.
Amanda Miller US Editor, ROOM Space Journal, Denver CO, USA

NASA’s next big rocket is the much-vaunted Space Launch System (SLS), designed for a new era of human exploration beyond Earth orbit. Equipped to launch crews of up to four in NASA’s Orion spacecraft, its first significant test is Artemis, the much-publicised mission to land American astronauts “including the first woman” on the Moon by 2024. Amanda Miller analyses progress so far.

The Space Shuttles had retired and NASA’s first follow-on programme to revive human spaceflight, the Constellation Program (CxP), had been cancelled due to a cost estimate of US$145 billion, an increase of nearly 50 percent to stay on schedule.

It was in 2011 when NASA announced its latest venture in human exploration: development of the Space Launch System super heavy-lift rocket after an independent commission had presented a range of approaches NASA could pursue in human space exploration, including alternatives to the Ares rockets designed for Constellation.

One of those alternatives was to design a new rocket incorporating technology from the Space Shuttle programme and subsequently Congress directed NASA to build the SLS by leveraging legacy systems and contracts from the Space Shuttles and Constellation.

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