Space Launch System

The Space Launch System is an American super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle under development by NASA since 2011. As of July 2022, the first launch is scheduled for no earlier than 29 August 2022. It replaces the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles, which were cancelled along with the rest of the Constellation program, a previous program aimed to return to the moon. The SLS is intended to become the successor to the retired Space Shuttle, and the primary launch vehicle of NASA's deep space exploration plans through the 2020s. Crewed lunar flights are planned as part of the Artemis program, leading to a possible human mission to Mars. The SLS is being developed in three major phases with increasing capabilities: Block 1, Block 1B, and Block 2. As of August 2019, SLS Block 1 launch vehicles are to launch the first three Artemis missions and five subsequent SLS flights are planned to use Block 1B, after which all flights will use Block 2.

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In 2011, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, first and last men on the Moon, advocated for Space Shuttles to be put back in service. Armstrong supported NASA's proposed Space Launch System, which the agency said could one day take man to Mars

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NASA wants to fly the obsolete Space Launch System for at least 30 years. The alternate scenario, the Starship takes a crew of astronauts from LEO to the moon directly, with no need for the Orion/SLS system.

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