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Space Launch System: NASA's Giant Rocket Explained (Infographic)

The SLS is derived from proven technology used for decades in America's moon program and the space shuttle.

NASA unveiled its new rocket for deep space exploration - the Space Launch System - on Sept. 14, 2011. The rocket will launch astronauts into space on NASA's Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and serve as the go-to booster for U.S. missions to explore asteroids and, eventually, Mars.

This infographic above shows how the Space Launch System will work. The first test flight of the new rocket, which will be more powerful than NASA's mighty Saturn V moon rocket, is set for 2017.

Editor's note: This infographic has been updated to reflect new details about the SLS system, including differences between the initial and fully evolved configurations.

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