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mission to Mars

Rocket to Mars

Artist’s rendering of the Space Launch System: test flight planned for 2018

NASA / MSFCArtist’s rendering of the Space Launch System: test flight planned for 2018NASA / MSFC

NASA, the United States space agency, announced that sometime before November 2018 it will launch the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, designed for travel to deep space and a precursor to the launch of the first manned mission to Mars, planned for 2030. The agency has completed its technical review of the design and assumed a commitment to complete the development of a version of the rocket, to have a capacity of 70 tons, which will permit an unmanned test flight beyond Earth’s orbit. By then in a more powerful configuration, the SLS will be able to carry up to 130 tons into space, making it feasible to send four astronauts beyond the moon’s orbit. After that, the goal is send a mission to capture an asteroid and place it in the moon’s orbit so that it can be studied in preparation for the flight to Mars. The announcement is the first move by NASA to reactivate manned missions to space since the 2011 retirement of the space shuttles. In 2010, the U. S. government cancelled the Constellation Project, which was to build a new generation of space vehicles. “The program is becoming a reality,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate at NASA, according to French news agency AFP.