​NASA Approves $7 Billion Rocket: NASA Approves Rocket For Boeing SLS

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August 31, 2014

NASA approves a $7 billion rocket of the Boeing-made Space Launch System (SLS) with a new platform.

According to The Spreadit, the first test flight on the rocket is scheduled take place before November of 2018. In addition, the first test flight with crew members will be in the year 2021 for space exploration missions. The Space Launch System is expected to take astronauts to the moon and eventually to Mars.

NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said:

“Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and we owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right … 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.”

Since NASA approves the $7 billion rocket, it’s been called the most powerful in the world. For those who want to see NASA return to the moon, or venture onward to Mars, this is the rocket that’s going to make it happen. Construction was approved after the SLS platform passed through NASA’s “Key Decision Point C” phase.

This phase of scrutiny is responsible for developing a budget ($7 billion), and a calendar for an initial launch flight. That flight is to take place in or before November 2018. Of the estimated $7 billion-plus budget, roughly $2.8 billion has been marked as the contract for Boeing, who is the primary contractor as NASA approves the $7 billion rocket.

The SLS is only one piece of the moon and Mars puzzle, as NASA is also busy building out the Orion spacecraft (the capsule that will ride on top of the SLS rockets), and the ground support/launch systems necessary for both hardware platforms to work.

NASA’s newest rocket stands 400 feet tall — 40 feet taller than the massive Saturn V rockets that carried men to the moon. It was said that NASA approves the $7 billion rocket based on a working model of the Space Launch System.

It’s possible that the Space Launch System rocket test flight could launch as early as December 2017, but NASA officials have committed to having the rocket ready for flight be the end of 2018 to be safe. That extra wiggle room should let the space agency cope with scheduling and funding issues as they crop up in the future, NASA officials said in a teleconference with reporters.

William Gerstenmaier issued a statement as NASA approves the $7 billion rocket. He is NASA’s associate administrator for the Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate for the rocket program:

“They’re [the review board] telling us that if we don’t do anything, we basically have a 70 percent chance of getting to that date … Our intent and the team’s intent at Marshall [Space Flight Center] is to go look at those problems and see what we can do to mitigate those problems.”

As NASA approves a $7 billion rocket, the 2018 date is a reflection of modeling done by a review board, which suggested that the new date is likely more attainable, NASA officials said during a news conference today (Aug. 27). The review board looked at the SLS plan and brought up problems that could arise during the building of the rocket system, possibly causing a change in schedule.