Concept for NASA's monster rocket passes critical test


The design for NASA's future monster rocket — dubbed the Space Launch System (SLS) — passed its last critical design review. That means NASA found that the vehicle’s specifications hold up, and the agency has deemed the design capable of launching into space. Now, engineers can begin the process of building and assembling the rocket, to get ready for its next major review in 2017. That test will determine how well the manufactured rocket matches up to its original design.

Along with passing the design review, the SLS also got an upgraded look this week. A new artist’s rendering of the vehicle shows most of the rocket's fuselage painted a burnt orange with a few grey streaks on its solid rocket boosters. The coloring is new, and the burnt orange hues inspire a hint of nostalgia, making the rocket reminiscent of NASA's canceled Space Shuttle, which traveled into space on the back of a giant burnt orange fuel tank. An ironic choice, as the SLS is often considered the replacement for the grounded Shuttle.