Here's what's special about the new NASA mega moon rocket

Here's what's special about the new NASA mega moon rocket

NASA prepares for the debut of its most powerful rocket ever, dubbed the "mega moon rocket". The vehicle is officially known as the Space Launch System (SLS) and is part of NASA's Artemis program. It just came out on the launch pad of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Thursday, March 17 for the pre-launch tests of the Artemis 1 mission.

For the first mission of the Artemis program, which NASA hopes may bring the first black woman and person to the moon, the SLS will be in what is known as its Block 1 configuration, Live Science's sister site reported. Under this configuration, the mega lunar rocket will be covered by the Orion crew vehicle and will be 98 meters tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty and weigh 2.6 million kilograms, according to NASA.

This means that it will actually be slightly shorter than the Saturn V, which was 110.5m tall. But SLS will be able to deliver 4 million kg of thrust, 15% more than the Saturn V's 3.4 million kg of thrust, and even surpassing the Space Shuttle system's 3.5 million kg of thrust. according to the Space Center Houston. SLS will be able to launch more than 27,000 kg to the moon. While this is slightly less than the Saturn V, less of the mega moon rocket's carrying capacity will be devoted to the different stages of the rocket and fuel, which will make it a better overall cargo mover, according to

Future versions of SLS will be even more powerful. The Block 2 configuration, which will have an additional upper stage to provide more thrust and a larger area for payloads, will be 111m tall and will be capable of launching more than 46,000kg towards the lunar surface, according to NASA. The rocket will be capable of carrying crews and material to Mars and should allow exploration almost anywhere in the solar system.

One of NASA's stated goals with its Artemis program is to land "the first woman and first black person on the moon". The SLS's Orion capsule is capable of taking four astronauts on a space trip, and is expected to do so for the first time with the Artemis 2 mission, which will fly around the moon sometime after the unmanned Artemis 1 mission, currently scheduled for no earlier than May 2022.

Artemis 3 is expected to bring people to the moon no earlier than 2025, according to The program hopes to build an orbiting station around the moon called the Lunar Gateway and establish Artemis base camp near the moon's south pole, according to NASA. Having humans, rather than just robots, on the moon's surface will allow for faster and more complicated procedures for exploring the Moon.

As previously reported, NASA lists its major scientific goals for Artemis as focused on understanding planetary processes on airless worlds, characterizing lunar ice and whether they can be used as resources for human missions, learning more about the history of the Earth-Moon system, looking for records of ancient solar and stellar processes that may have left an impact on the Moon and using the Moon as a basis for seeing the universe and conducting unprecedented astronomical observations.

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