NASA Approves $2.8 billion contract to Build World’s Most Powerful Rocket

The design review for the world's most powerful rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) has been approved, unveiled Boeing. Now, NASA has entered into a $2.8 billion contract with Boeing for the development of the same.

The new contract was signed on July 1 and extends through 2021. The first flight of the rocket is expected to take off in 2017 from Florida's Cape Canaveral. President Barack Obama was the one who took the decision to build the world's most powerful rocket. He wanted to reassess the nation's extra-planetary missions.

"Our teams have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the SLS - the largest ever - will be built safely, affordably and on time", said Virginia Barnes, Boeing SLS vice-president and programme manager.

The new mission includes about $700 million that has been spent on tooling and other SLS items at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The booster will also be developed at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility and then will be put together to transport to the Kennedy Space Center.

The rocket will be designed to bring human passengers as well as cargo beyond low-Earth orbit to the moon, Mars, asteroids and into deep space. NASA reviewed the core stage's final design plan and gave permission to Boeing to start the production of the SLS.

It has also given permission to Boeing to conduct a preliminary study for the development of an upper stage that could be used for the bigger version of the rocket. The rocket would be 5.5 million pounds and 321 feet tall and would be able to lift 70 metric tons.

When the upper stage would be added, then the rocket would grow to 384 feet tall and will have the carrying capacity of up to 130 metric tons.