NASA wants to buy SLS rockets at half price, fly them into the 2050s

A view of NASA's SLS rocket, nearly fully assembled, in September 2020.

Enlarge / A view of NASA’s SLS rocket, nearly fully assembled, in September 2020. (credit: NASA)

NASA has asked the US aerospace industry how it would go about “maximizing the long-term efficiency and sustainability” of the Space Launch System rocket and its associated ground systems.

The request comes as NASA and its chief contractor for the rocket, Boeing, are nearing the launch pad after a long, arduous, and expensive development process that has lasted more than a decade. The heavy lift SLS rocket, carrying an Orion space capsule, should finally make its debut during the first half of 2022.

In its request NASA says it would like to fly the SLS rocket for “30 years or more” as a national capability. Moreover, the agency wants the rocket to become a “sustainable and affordable system for moving humans and large cargo payloads to cislunar and deep-space destinations.”

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