NASA Will Compete Space Launch System (SLS) Boosters

It should come as no surprise that NASA has selected a "shuttle-derived" vehicle with two existing LOX/LH2 stages as its reference design for the new heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) ordered by Congress and to be used for exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit (LEO).

Over the past few years NASA had supported the use of solid rocket boosters (SRBs) as strap-on motors for both the now-cancelled Ares I and Ares V launch systems.

Many experts have opposed the use of SRBs for these applications, because of limited energy efficiency and expensive post-flight refurbishing. NASA has now decided to hold a competition between liquid-propellant and solid-propellant boosters for the SLS in order to satisfy a Congressional mandate.

The use of liquid-propellant boosters is not a new idea. The original proposed Space Shuttle design had included reusable fly-back liquid boosters as far back as the early 1970s.

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