NASA’s deep space rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), is intended for a journey to Mars – but a 2017 directive from the president has directed NASA to return America to the Moon as we develop the exploration systems and expertise to prepare for Mars.
While the U.S. will still be the first country to place humans on Mars – NASA now plans to also build humanity’s first space “Gateway” near the moon before venturing onward to the red planet.
The SLS has been designed from the ground up to be a flexible deep space transportation system capable of meeting NASA’s evolving missions and plans, including bringing crew and now parts of the space Gateway to the moon for construction.
After years of work to design, develop, and test key components of this rocket, the first three segments of the rocket are being joined this month in a critical production milestone. Despite ups and downs in development, mission design, and schedules, SLS is poised to provide a safe and more repeatable Earth to Mars commute via humanity’s first space Gateway.