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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

NASA is losing the race to build a better rocket

• by Loren Grush

An emerging class of powerful rockets is supposed to start flying in the next couple of years. They're known as heavy-lift launch vehicles. These rockets are capable of getting a whole lot of stuff into space at once — and everyone seems to be making one. SpaceX has been promising that its Falcon Heavy, a larger variant of the Falcon 9 rocket, will fly for the first time this summer. The United Launch Alliance is working on a brand-new vehicle called the Vulcan that's supposed to fly in 2019. And spaceflight company Blue Origin is the latest to throw its hat in the ring, recently claiming its next big rocket, the New Glenn, will be able to deliver 100,000 pounds of cargo — and eventually people — to lower Earth orbit.

At the same time, NASA is developing a monster rocket of its own; it's called the Space Launch System, and it's being touted as the most powerful rocket ever created.

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