The NASA Space Launch System (SLS) completed a "combined System Requirements Review and System Definition Review, which set requirements of the overall launch vehicle system."
Based on passing this important goal, the NASA SLS program will now move forward to its preliminary design phase.
According to the NASA news release NASA'S Space Launch System Passes Major Agency Review, Moves to Preliminary Design, "The SLS will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft and other payloads, and provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit."
Further, "These NASA reviews set technical, performance, cost and schedule requirements to provide on-time development of the heavy-lift rocket. As part of the process, an independent review board comprised of technical experts from across NASA evaluated SLS Program documents describing vehicle specifications, budget and schedule. The board confirmed SLS is ready to move from concept development to preliminary design."
And, "The in-depth assessment confirmed the basic vehicle concepts of the SLS, allowing the team to move forward and start more detailed engineering design."
Further, Todd May, who is the SLS program manager, stated, "This is a pivotal moment for this program and for NASA. This has been a whirlwind experience from a design standpoint. Reaching this key development point in such a short period of time, while following the strict protocol and design standards set by NASA for human spaceflight is a testament to the team's commitment to delivering the nation's next heavy-lift launch vehicle."
The first test flight of the Space Launch System is tentatively scheduled for 2017. The rocket will have the capacity to lift 70 metric tons (77 tons) into space.
Eventually, a much larger rocket will be built, one that will be able to lift 130 metric tons (143 tons) beyond low-Earth orbit for exploration into deep space.
The YouTube video "Animation: NASA's Space Launch System (SLS)" shows a simulated flight of the NASA Space Launch System (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQxdrFeZkbA).
The caption for the video states, "The Space Launch System will be NASA's first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V took American astronauts to the moon over 40 years ago. With its superior lift capability, the SLS will expand our reach in the solar system and allow us to explore cis-lunar space, near-Earth asteroids, Mars and its moons and beyond. We will learn more about how the solar system formed, where Earth' water and organics originated and how life might be sustained in places far from our Earth's atmosphere and expand the boundaries of human exploration. These discoveries will change the way we understand ourselves, our planet, and its place in the universe."