Who said NASA is dead? The space agency has unveiled its new rocket design — the most powerful ever if we go ahead and build it — capable one day of dropping a human or two on Mars.

The Space Launch System is 3.5 to 6.5 times more powerful than rockets currently in use and NASA hopes to have it ready by 2017 — six years after retiring the space shuttle.

It was designed with deep space missions in mind — missions that might see Americans landing on a far off asteroid or the surface of the red planet. — PZS


On top of the SLS, Nasa plans to put its Orion astronaut capsule, which is already in development.

The agency says the first launch should occur towards the end of 2017.

This will be an uncrewed test flight, and it is estimated the project will have cost $18bn (£11.4bn) by that stage.

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