NASA has unveiled its plans for a massive new launcher capable of powering manned space flights well beyond low-Earth orbit and ultimately to Mars.
NASA chief Charles Bolden made the announcement of the design for the new Space Launch System, which the space agency touted as the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V rocket put US astronauts on the moon.
"The next chapter of America's space exploration story is being written today," said Bolden.
"President Obama challenged us to be bold and dream big, and that's exactly what we are doing at NASA."
The launcher, which will take until 2017 to build and cost an estimated $35 billion, will fill a gap in US manned flight program created by the retirement of the last US space shuttle in July after 30 years of service.
But NASA said it will be far more powerful, capable of carrying much larger payloads beyond low-Earth orbit deep into space, and eventually to Mars.