Nasa announced on Wednesday the design plans for the rocket of its next generation spacecraft for carrying astronauts into deep space.
The heavy-lift rocket will be the most powerful since the Saturn V rocket that carried astronauts to the moon and is part of plans by the United States to focus on travelling beyond low-Earth orbit to an asteroid and, eventually, Mars.
The rocket will carry a crew capsule called the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which is already being developed.
Nasa retired its ageing space shuttle fleet earlier this year and is shifting attention to working with commercial companies to fly astronauts to the International Space Station and other destinations in low-Earth orbit.
Meanwhile, the space agency will turn its attention to developing its own spacecraft capable of travelling to more distant destinations.
“This launch system will create good-paying American jobs, ensure continued US leadership in space, and inspire millions around the world,” Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden said.
“President Obama challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that’s exactly what we are doing at Nasa. While I was proud to fly on the space shuttle, tomorrow’s explorers will now dream of one day walking on Mars.” — Sapa-dpa