NASA and ATK have completed Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the Solid Rocket Booster design that will be used on NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift booster. The completion of this milestone means that SLS is one step closer to launch, with the first flight planned to take place in 2017.
“This is a tremendous milestone for ATK as we work toward building the boosters for our country’s Space Launch System,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of ATK’s Space Launch division. “NASA’s SLS will enable human exploration for decades to come.”
With the PDR behind them, SLS proceeds forward to the Critical Design Review (CDR).
ATK plans to do a static firing of its Qualification Motor-1 (QM-1) sometime later this year.
“The booster PDR was successful and speaks to the importance of a collaborative design process with our NASA customer,” said ATK Vice President of the company’s Next-Generation Booster branch Fred Brasfield.
The first SLS is slated to launch in 2017; it will be an unmanned test flight of the rocket. However, it will be an additional four years before the rocket sends humans into space. Whereas it was previously believed that the 2021 flight would be a cislunar mission, that has since changed.
It was unveiled in the FY 2014 Budget Proposal Request that the White House wants NASA to capture an asteroid and bring it into lunar orbit. Astronauts would then launch using SLS and travel to the asteroid in the space agency’s new crewed spacecraft, Orion, to study it, collect samples, and then return to Earth.
NASA representatives have gone on record as stating that SLS is key to sending crews to Mars, a mission that is currently estimated to take place sometime in the 2030s. The rocket’s 130 MT lifting capability is viewed as crucial to getting the elements needed for such an undertaking to orbit in as few launches as possible.
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