Blastoff! The Big, Bad Space Launch System Quiz
by Staff
On Sept. 14, 2011, NASA announced plans for the Space Launch System (SLS), the driving force behind the American space program for the foreseeable future. How much do you know about the future of American spaceflight?

When did the space shuttle fly its final mission?

  • May 2011
  • July 2011
  • February 2011

What was the name of the original successor program to the space shuttle?

  • Constitution program
  • Galaxy program
  • Constellation program

What was the primary mission of that program?

  • to rendezvous with a comet
  • to return to the moon
  • to destroy near-Earth objects

The SLS will be the most powerful launch vehicle ever built. What veteran of the space program currently holds that title?

  • Saturn V
  • Jupiter-C
  • Soviet N-1

NASA hopes the first SLS flight will occur in what year?

  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2021

How much will the initial SLS weigh?

  • 5.5 million pounds (2.5 million kilograms)
  • 6.7 million pounds (3.0 million kilograms)
  • 8.4 million pounds (3.8 million kilograms)

Which leftover parts from the space shuttle program will the initial SLS craft use?

  • three RS-25 space shuttle main engines (SSMEs) and two solid rocket boosters (SRBs)
  • two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and the space shuttle external tank (ET)
  • the space shuttle launch gantry

What's the J-2X?

  • the official NASA designation for Tang
  • an updated version of the Saturn V rocket engine
  • Jimmie J.J. Walker’s signature cologne

Which of the following choices best represents the volume of the SLS’s cargo faring?

  • the Statue of Liberty
  • RMS Queen Mary 2
  • nine school buses

The five-stage version of the solid rocket booster was originally developed for which program?

  • the Constellation program
  • the space shuttle program
  • the Space Launch System program

What's the name of the vehicle in which astronauts will ride to space atop the SLS?

  • the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle
  • the Ares Micropropulsion Cruising Vehicle
  • the Constellation Multiperson Command Vehicle

How much habitable space will the astronaut crew occupy in the MPCV?

  • 113 cubic feet (3.2 cubic meters)
  • 210 cubic feet (5.9 cubic meters)
  • 316 cubic feet (8.9 cubic meters)

Which part(s) of the MPCV will return to Earth?

  • the crew and service modules
  • only the crew module
  • all of it

What's the purpose of the spacecraft adaptor?

  • fitting the crew module to the SLS
  • docking with other spacecraft
  • both of the above

How much is NASA expected to spend on SLS over the next six years?

  • $18 billion
  • $1.8 billion
  • $180 million

During launch, a small rocket sits atop the SLS’s crew vehicle. Why is it there?

  • to carry the crew capsule to safety during a launch emergency
  • to protect the crew module from hazardous atmospheric loads and heating
  • both of the above

What derisive nickname did critics attach to the SLS?

  • the Shuttle’s Lame Successor
  • the Senate Launch System
  • the Sad Little Spaceship

How much does it currently cost to send American astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Russian spacecraft?

  • tens of millions of dollars
  • billions of rubles
  • both of the above

How many SLS missions have been planned and funded?

  • four
  • one
  • zero

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California argued for which alternative to the SLS?

  • parking a fuel depot in orbit to support commercial rockets
  • constructing a space elevator to reduce launch costs
  • converting the International Space Station into a theme park to raise funding