News Column


August 28, 2014

Huntsville, AL - NASA announced on Wednesday that the Space Launch System (SLS), developed in Northern Alabama and managed at Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center, has formally moved from its "formulation" stage into "implementation." After a rigorous review, NASA is committing to a funding level and readiness date that will keep America on track to send humans to Mars in the 2030s. This thorough review, known as Key Decision Point C, provides a launch readiness schedule based on an initial SLS flight no later than November 2018.

NASA's new heavy-lift rocket will be the largest launch vehicle ever built and will be more powerful than the Saturn V rocket that carried our Apollo astronauts to the moon. NASA will use the SLS to travel beyond Low-Earth Orbit to distant objects, including asteroids and eventually Mars.

Congressman Brooks said, "The United States is on a clear path to explore beyond low earth orbit . . . to capture and study asteroids, to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond, and SLS is how we'll get there. Passing this rigorous review is a huge milestone for SLS and for America's space program. Capturing asteroids or putting a man on Mars used to sound like science fiction, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Marshall Space Flight Center SLS team and support organizations, it is now a reality. The fact is, the first humans who will step foot on Mars are already alive today, and now, their spacecraft begins full development."

Brooks continued, "We can't even fathom all the benefits to mankind this spacecraft and its missions will bring about, but they are sure to be numerous and profound. It is truly humbling to think of the advancements in science and society that are being born today in the hands of SLS engineers. I am so proud that the Tennessee Valley plays such a large role in this effort."

The review was conducted by a team led by NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, former director of Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center. Lightfoot stated, "Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program, and we owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right."

For more information about the Space Launch System, please visit the NASA's SLS website at

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Source: Congressional Documents & Publications

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