NASA Seeks Payload Concepts for Second SLS Flight

Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)
Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the world’s most powerful rocket, is designed to be flexible and evolvable to meet a variety of crew and cargo mission needs for deep-space missions. The agency is seeking potential scientific and technological payloads for the second integrated flight of SLS with NASA’s Orion spacecraft, known as Exploration Mission-2, or EM-2.

Featuring an enhanced rocket configuration for EM-2, SLS will include a new universal stage adapter, payload adapter and exploration upper stage. A request for information (RFI) released today seeks ideas from NASA, industry, academia and international partners for co-manifested payloads within the universal stage adaptor through Nov. 7, 2016.

EM-2 will be the first test flight for the rocket and spacecraft with crew, and is targeted to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2021. The mission’s primary goals are to demonstrate Orion’s crew capabilities and the upgraded SLS rocket.

“This mission is another important step into the proving ground of deep space,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “EM-2, powered by the enhanced SLS, will be the first opportunity to carry large co-manifested payloads. We look forward to seeing what innovative ideas there are for using this unique capability to advance exploration, science, and technology goals in support of our Journey to Mars.”

For the purpose of this RFI, NASA is seeking ideas for one large payload up to 13,200 pounds (6,000 kilograms) or smaller, stackable payloads up to 661 pounds (300 kilograms) each. Payloads could be mounted in any number of configurations within the adapter, which sits between the Orion spacecraft and rocket’s upper stage. Actual mass allocations on the flight would depend on the flight trajectory and payload capacity after the primary mission is satisfied.

Current EM-2 mission concepts assumes that any co-manifested payloads would deploy from SLS and have no further interaction with the rocket or Orion spacecraft. NASA would provide the launch opportunity, and the payload provider would assume all payload costs.

The early missions of SLS and Orion will be the first of several missions that travel more than 40,000 miles beyond the moon to demonstrate capabilities in deep space farther than humans have ever traveled, but close enough to return home in days or weeks if needed. The first integrated mission, known as Exploration Mission-1, is targeted to launch in late 2018.

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  • MzUnGu

    Might as well launch that Interim Control Module sitting around to stick it to the Russians with their threat of pulling out… but that only means ISS will be up there even longer sucking up all the tax dollars. 😛

  • Kapitalist

    A mothballed space tug? Nice to have if an asteroid needs to be deflected. Or if a $9bn space telescope needs help to its intended orbit. (If those things can be interfaced with)

  • Aerospike

    Sooo, it is official now that EM-2 will already use the EUS so that they can skip the pretty much useless man-rating of the Interim Cryogenic whatever Detla IV Upper Stage for a single flight?

    I know there have been talks about this (and the risk that this could further delay EM-2) but I must have missed that this has already been decided.

  • Jeff2Space

    How about a manned Bigelow Aerospace inflatable module test? 😉

  • JamesG

    Test?

  • The final decision is not made I think. Also, there is no chance that NASA will pay for ICPS man-rating.

    So, there are two outstanding scenarios under consideration. Launching EUS for the first time in EM-2 with astronauts, or moving EM-2 to the third slot and using an interim cargo mission (Europa orbiter?) to test EUS.

    If you read the text above, you will see that NASA is still pretty cautious to not be seen as having taken the final decision for this.

    “The agency is seeking potential scientific and technological payloads
    for the second integrated flight of SLS with NASA’s Orion spacecraft,
    known as Exploration Mission-2, or EM-2.”

    “EM-2 will be the first test flight for the rocket and spacecraft with crew”

    “EM-2, powered by the enhanced SLS, will be the first opportunity to carry large co-manifested payloads.”

    “The early missions of SLS and Orion will be the first of several missions”

  • Robert G. Oler

    what a joke

  • ThomasLMatula

    How about a Bigelow Habitat for the EM L1? It would be a nice start on building some space infrastructure.

  • windbourne

    Chances are very high that Bigelow will already have 2 or more ba330 in orbit.

    Nasa was given 2 telescopes by the NRO. How long to modify one and get it ready for use? It would be nice to either replace or better yet, supplement, the Hubble.

  • Doug Weathers

    What part do you find amusing?

  • Robert G. Oler

    that they are looking for payloads on a rocket whose flight date is so unsure…and even whose config is uncertain.

  • Robert G. Oler

    that is a good idea

  • publiusr

    This
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BA_2100

    It takes SLS. Not even New Glenn would be large enough.

    Payload shroud size matters.

    The Block IA will the the most common.

    I want to see JIMO dusted off.