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The Space Launch System is a heavy launch vehicle in progress by NASA. It is the replacement for the planned Constellation program, which was supposed to take us to the Moon, and possibly Mars. The SLS's first flight is scheduled for 2019.
When it is finished, the rocket will be the most powerful rocket in the world, passing SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. The first version of the rocket, the Block I, will take us to the Moon. Later versions will possibly take the first humans to Mars.
The SLS Block I's first flight will be the Exploration Mission I, scheduled for 2019. It will take us on a flyby of the Moon and go farther out than even the Apollo Saturn V.
The Orion MPCV is the payload of the rocket. It has room for 4 astronauts, and comes with its own engine, service module, and solar panels. The tower on top is the Launch Escape System, which will jettison the pod from the rest of the rocket if there is a problem during launch.
The rocket has 4 RS-25 engines, 2 Solid Rocket Boosters for the bottom stage.
- The Pod on top can open up to store astronauts.
- The Boosters on the sides can separate from the rest of the rocket.
- The stages can separate from each other.
- The panels on the sides of the Service Module act as the fairings that will protect the Service Module during launch.