The headline tells the story. NASA is getting back in the manned space flight business. It’s spending over $3 Billion this year on that goal. Most people, and just about all science fiction writers, will be excited by this news because it’s embarrassing for the USA to not be able to fly our own astronauts.
The test of the booster rocket just happened and, with any luck, the first test flight of the new SLS system will happen in 2018. After that, the plan is to fly this new system to Mars – sometime in the mid 2030’s or 2040’s. It’ll be great to have humans send back pictures of all the rocks that robots have sent back pictures of.
Here’s a picture of the new vehicle. You can compare it to earlier generations of technology. On the left, you have the 1960s Saturn V. In the middle, the 1970s Space Shuttle, and the brand new SLS which will continue to be developed well into the 2020s.
Can you see the improvements? Look closely at the strap on booster engines. This is what was just tested. Sure they look like the same thing that the shuttle used 40 years ago, but there’s a big difference. Go ahead, study them.
Actually, they are the same engines used on the shuttle, but the NASA geniuses really took them to a whole new level. Still, can’t see? Then Ill tell you.
They have FIVE segments instead of just four! They are one taller and can lift more! Except this first SLS won’t be able to lift as much as the Saturn V could in 1966. That really doesn’t matter right now though, because sometime in the next 20 years there’s planned to be an even bigger SLS that will be able to life a bit more than the Saturn V could.
Are you detecting that I’m not all that impressed with our progress in space? There’s a revelation about that in book one of The Revelation of Brian A. Pearlmitter series. Most readers find it surprising and thought provoking.