NASA shares an update about its next generation launch system, SLS

nasa sls progress update 70mt dac3 orange launch from ocean uhr2 1
This artist rendering shows a wide-angle view of the liftoff of the 70-metric-ton (77-ton) crew vehicle configuration SLS from the launchpad. NASA/MSFC

NASA is working on a next-generation launch system called Space Launch System, or SLS, hoping to create a transport system to take astronauts of the future to the Moon and beyond. Design and manufacturing for SLS was already underway last year, and now NASA has announced their progress towards the first mission for the new system, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) in 2020.

The first part of the new system is a crew capsule called Orion. Engineers are currently working on stacking the crew and service modules together and checking that they operate harmoniously. Once these fitting tests are complete, the stacked modules will be taken to NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio where they will be tested in a thermal vacuum and against electromagnetic interference. Then the modules will return to the Kennedy Space Center for final testing before they are integrated with SLS.

nasa sls progress update block 1b in flight tw adj 1
The next generation of NASA’s Space Launch System will be 364 feet tall in the crew configuration, will deliver a 105-metric-ton (115-ton) lift capacity and feature a powerful exploration upper stage. On SLS’s second flight with Orion, the newer rocket will carry up to four astronauts on a mission around the moon, in the deep-space proving ground for the technologies and capabilities needed on NASA’s Journey to Mars. NASA

The second part of the system is the SLS rocket. Production of the first flight’s core stage is nearly completed, and once finished the SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world. The other part of the core stage being worked on is the engine section, which sits at the bottom of the core stage and feeds propellant into the four powerful RS-25 engines. Once this section is complete it will be connected to the 130-foot-long liquid hydrogen propellant tank, then also to the forward section which includes the liquid oxygen tank.

nasa sls progress update core stage infographic reboot 1
An illustration of Space Launch System Core Stage 101 NASA/MSFC

All of the preparations are building towards the EM-1 unmanned test flight in 2020, followed by a mission to send a crew around the Moon and back to Earth in a second mission called Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) by 2023.

Emerging Tech

Spacewalk success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.
Emerging Tech

Scientists have a way to turn off alcoholism: Blasting the brain with lasers

Researchers from Scripps Research have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse the desire to drink in alcohol-dependent rats by targeting a part of the brain using lasers. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.
Deals

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.