Nasa’s Space Launch System (SLS), has been in the works for the past decade. Streams of budget cuts and mismanagement have earned the project a reputation as a failure and a lost cause. The retirement of the Space Shuttle program left the United States having to rely on Russian Soyuz craft and commercial groups like Space X to access near earth orbit. The Space Launch System is Nasa’s in house successor to its retired rockets. When completed it will be the most powerful and largest rocket ever built with an eventual ability to lift 130 metric tons into orbit.
Many have blasted the system as an outdated and unnecessary project. It is not reusable, and it is simply too costly. Initially a part of President Bush’s “Constellation” plan for space exploration, the SLS will eventually be used for missions to Mars. Its first flight, an unmanned mission, has been pushed back to late 2018. The inaugural flight will be a 3 week lunar orbit, focused on testing the system as rigorously as possible.
It has recently come to light that the Trump White House put in a request to possibly add passengers to that first flight, in an attempt to do something dramatic in space during Trump’s current term. That was never in Nasa’s plan, and the request was laughed off.
Achenbach, Joel. “NASA won’t put astronauts on first flight of new rocket.” The Washington Post. May 12, 2017. Accessed May 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/05/12/nasa-wont-put-astronauts-on-first-flight-of-new-rocket/?utm_term=.f3ec7b9dae81.