News that Boeing is designing a new high-powered rocket project called the Space Launch System is supercharging the interest of some investors and other bystanders in the future of America’s space program.
CNET reports today that the rocket will help to carry larger payloads on deep space missions such as future lunar landings, and even missions to Mars.
The Space Launch System is said to have 9 million pounds of thrust. For contrast, the Falcon 9 Full Thrust system designed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX is estimated to have around 2,100,000 pounds in stage II.
Now, as it seems that NASA is gearing up for crewed missions to various parts of our solar system, the last U.S. trip to the moon or any other orbiting moon or planet was almost a half century ago.
“When NASA sends the first woman and the next man to the moon,” writes Claire Reilly, “Those astronauts won’t just be the first humans to land on the lunar surface since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, they’ll also be riding atop the biggest and most powerful rocket in NASA’s history…The SLS will stand taller than the Statue of Liberty when it’s ready to take off from the launchpad.”
‘When’ is the operative question.
With so much space expiration being done by so many countries around the world, why has it taken so long to renew the interest in a crewed flight to land on the moon?
“The China National Space Agency (CNSA) is arguably the fastest-rising space agency in the world,” writes Matthew Williams at Interesting Engineering. “Concurrent with China’s “economic miracle”, the Chinese space program has grown considerably in the past two decades and has been mounting increasingly advanced and ambitious missions accordingly.”
However, what we find in Williams’ long chronicling of China’s past space work, human lunar exploration is not part of the equation. It seems that with the rapid sophistication of robotics, lunar rovers have taken the place of human moon landings for the last several decades. Landing a human on the moon involves much greater liability, and it remains to be seen when any country will have the appetite for that kind of risk. But when they do, Boeing’s design will be grand.