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NASA announces SLS design
Posted: Wed, Sep 14, 2011, 2:05 PM ET (1805 GMT)
Space Launch System (SLS) illustration (NASA) NASA unveiled Wednesday morning its proposed design for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket, scheduled to make an initial test flight in 2017. The rocket will feature a core stage with the same diameter as the shuttle's external tank with five Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) at its base; a future upper stage will use a J-2X engine. Two solid-rocket boosters like those from the shuttle will also be used at first, although NASA plans to compete the design of the boosters for missions after the initial test flights. The SLS will place 70 metric tons into low Earth orbit, evolving later into a 130-ton version The first, unmanned test flight of the SLS is planned for the end of 2017 by NASA. The design announcement, made on very short notice, comes after months of debate between Congress and the White House; some members of Congress had expressed concern that the administration was deliberately going slow to delay the project.
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