While NASA isn't expected to launch its new deep space mega-rocket until early 2018, the space agency still wants the public to get psyched about what's to come. To that end, they've created a new music video for their Space Launch System featuring all the style of a movie trailer and the feel of a video game.
For many, this video may mark a first introduction to the SLS — a launch platform reminiscent of the Saturn V rocket that took American astronauts to space between 1966 to 1973. By improving upon this design, NASA will eventually be able to move more than 130 tons into low-Earth orbit, making it the most capable and most powerful heavy-lift vehicle ever built. By 2030, in a final configuration that will stand over 400 feet tall, the hope is that the SLS will finally take a manned crew to Mars.
"Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and we owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right," NASA associate administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement last year. "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."
Through 2017, the SLS has an estimated development cost of $18 billion. To avoid giving Congress sticker shock, the agency has remained coy on costs beyond that — but it's clear that any manned missions will require tremendous financial resources to become a reality.
“If we laid out a path directly to Mars and we laid out all the vehicles and all the testing and all the work to get there, then you end up with a fairly long period of time with a lot of funding that goes into that activity that says this program is something maybe we don’t want to go do,” William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said during a panel discussion last year.
Of course, the above video isn't the only one you should be watching. NASA recently tested one of the four RS-25 engines that will be used to create more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust in the SLS's core stage. Coupled with a pair of five-segment solid rocket boosters (SRBs), the SLS will lift with 8 million pounds of thrust total.
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