Space Launch System

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen at night atop a mobile launcher as it rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B
Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft attached
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Space Launch System or (SLS) is a NASA rocket designed to carry heavy payloads into deep space. This means it can be used to take astronauts to places like the Moon and Mars. It can also be used to carry robots to places like Jupiter or Saturn. The SLS replaces NASA’s Space Shuttle programme and is a vital part of NASA’s plan to send astronauts back to the Moon.

The SLS contains a large core stage, 65 metres tall and 8 metres wide. The core stage contains the ship's computers, as well as the liquid fuel that powers its 4 engines. The engines supply the millions of pounds of thrust needed to reach the Moon. A solid-fuel booster is attached on each side of the core stage. The boosters help produce enough thrust to achieve lift off during the first 2 minutes of flight. Modules which carry crew, spacecraft, or cargo can be attached to the top of the core stage.

The first flight using the SLS took place on 16th November 2022. The Artemis rocket orbited around the Moon before returning to Earth. The first planned crewed flight is scheduled for May 2024.