[meteorite-list] NASA Completes Key Review of World's Most Powerful Rocket in Support of Journey to Mars

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:04:37 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201408272204.s7RM4buM013064_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

August 27, 2014
NASA Completes Key Review of World's Most Powerful Rocket in Support of
Journey to Mars

NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous review of
the Space Launch System (SLS) -- the heavy-lift, exploration class rocket
under development to take humans beyond Earth orbit and to Mars -- and
approved the program's progression from formulation to development, something
no other exploration class vehicle has achieved since the agency built the
space shuttle.

"We are on a journey of scientific and human exploration that leads to Mars,"
said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "And we're firmly committed to
building the launch vehicle and other supporting systems that will take us on
that journey."

For its first flight test, SLS will be configured for a 70-metric-ton
(77-ton) lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond
low-Earth orbit. In its most powerful configuration, SLS will provide an
unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons), which will
enable missions even farther into our solar system, including such
destinations as an asteroid and Mars.

This decision comes after a thorough review known as Key Decision Point C
(KDP-C), which provides a development cost baseline for the 70-metric ton
version of the SLS of $7.021 billion from February 2014 through the first
launch and a launch readiness schedule based on an initial SLS flight no
later than November 2018.

Conservative cost and schedule commitments outlined in the KDP-C align the
SLS program with program management best practices that account for potential
technical risks and budgetary uncertainty beyond the program's control.

"Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and we
owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right," said Associate
Administrator Robert Lightfoot, who oversaw the review process. "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."

"The Space Launch System Program has done exemplary work during the past
three years to get us to this point," said William Gerstenmaier, associate
administrator for the Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate
at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We will keep the teams working toward a
more ambitious readiness date, but will be ready no later than November

The SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations programs each
conduct a design review prior to each program's respective KDP-C, and each
program will establish cost and schedule commitments that account for its
individual technical requirements.

"We are keeping each part of the program -- the rocket, ground systems, and
Orion -- moving at its best possible speed toward the first integrated test
launch," said Bill Hill, director Exploration Systems Development at NASA.
"We are on a solid path toward an integrated mission and making progress in
all three programs every day."

"Engineers have made significant technical progress on the rocket and have
produced hardware for all elements of the SLS program," said SLS program
manager Todd May. "The team members deserve an enormous amount of credit
for their dedication to building this national asset."

The program delivered in April the first piece of flight hardware for
Orion's maiden flight, Exploration Flight Test-1 targeted for December.
This stage adapter is of the same design that will be used on SLS's first
flight, Exploration Mission-1.

Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans has all major tools installed and is
producing hardware, including the first pieces of flight hardware for SLS.
Sixteen RS-25 engines, enough for four flights, currently are in inventory at
Stennis Space Center, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where an engine is
already installed and ready for testing this fall. NASA contractor ATK has
conducted successful test firings of the five-segment solid rocket boosters
and is preparing for the first qualification motor test.

SLS will be the world's most capable rocket. In addition to opening new
frontiers for explorers traveling aboard the Orion capsule, the SLS may also
offer benefits for science missions that require its use and can't be flown
on commercial rockets.

The next phase of development for SLS is the Critical Design Review, a
programmatic gate that reaffirms the agency's confidence in the program
planning and technical risk posture.

For more information about SLS, visit:



Stephanie Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington
stephanie.schierholz at nasa.gov
Received on Wed 27 Aug 2014 06:04:37 PM PDT

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