Spaceflight Insider

Video: NASA releases new animation of super-heavy-lift SLS booster

NASA Space Launch System (SLS) booster with Orion spacecraft launching from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39B in Florida. NASA image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

An artist’s rendition of the Space Launch System (SLS). Image Credit: NASA

While its first flight is two years away, that hasn’t stopped NASA from priming the pump of interest in the space agency’s new super-heavy-lift rocket—the Space Launch System (SLS). NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has released a new animation depicting what a launch of this new system might look like.

While companies like Boeing, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX are working to handle the responsibility of sending crews to low-Earth orbit (LEO), NASA has its eyes set on far more distant destinations, such as an asteroid and potentially Mars. Sending crews past LEO is something the agency has not attempted since the heady days of the Apollo program in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

SLS is currently scheduled to carry out its inaugural flight in late 2018. Exploration Mission 1, as this test flight is called, will be an uncrewed test flight of the SLS/Orion stack that should see Orion travel around the Moon—the first time a crew-rated spacecraft has done so in more than 40 years.

Video courtesy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

That was the best yet Jason… You can feel the awesome flow throughb your blood just watching it hehe…

Someone at MSFC has watched Armageddon too many times. Too bad the first flight of SLS offers no opportunity to include a Right Stuff-esque slow-mo sequence of the heroic spacesuit-clad crew striding their grim-faced and determined way across the sizzling Florida tarmac on their way to glory. Oh well, there’s always 2021… or 2022… or 2023… or…

I agree with Michael. Very inspiring. Awesome music to get the goose bumps popping.

It still pains me to think that those really pretty engines will be discarded into the ocean, when companies like SpaceX are doing such inovative things. Oh well…Progress can be expensive. I have high hopes for accellerated space flight activity in the years to come.

Probably destined to become the Spruce Goose of the 21C

this video shows the level reached by 3D animation software but I think that the first real SLS launch in 2018 (if it will happen) will be only a sort of Ares 5-X test

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