NASA has approved work on the core stage of a rocket for its forthcoming Space Launch System project that will take us back to the moon, to mars, and even beyond.

The core stage, aka the middle portion of the rocket that makes up much of its body, will be about 200 feet high and store much of the rocket’s fuel necessary to make the voyage. Earlier this week the space agency finalized a $2.8 billion deal with Boeing to start building the core stage of the SLS project, but not before over 3,000 components of the project were approved by 11 experts. (The last time a NASA craft was approved was back in the `70s.)

NASA plans to spend $6.8 billion of its funding from 2014 to 2018 for the SLS project, with the goal of having it be launch-ready by 2017 — although, that launch will be for an unmanned mission.

That seems like a small price to pay to get us a little closer to the stars.

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