Engineers at NASA, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne are making good progress on the initial version of the agency’s planned Space Launch System (SLS) for deep-space human exploration, but it’s the advanced configuration that may actually drive some innovation in the field. The first few flights will use the 70-metric-ton-capable version of the launcher. But Congress wants a beefier, 130-metric-ton rocket for serious exploration, as well as mix-and-match versions in between to ...

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