NASA Space Launch System Fuel Tank compared to Spacex Interplanetary Transport System Tank

Welding is complete on the largest piece of the core stage that will provide the fuel for the first flight of NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System, with the Orion spacecraft in 2018. The core stage liquid hydrogen tank has completed welding on the Vertical Assembly Center at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Standing more than 130 feet tall, the liquid hydrogen tank is the largest cryogenic fuel tank for a rocket in the world. The liquid hydrogen tank and liquid oxygen tank are part of the core stage — the “backbone” of the SLS rocket that will stand at more than 200 feet tall. Together, the tanks will hold 733,000 gallons of propellant and feed the vehicle’s four RS-25 engines to produce a total of 2 million pounds of thrust. This is the second major piece of core stage flight hardware to finish full welding on the Vertical Assembly Center.

The SLS design is driven by two imperatives: to achieve particular lift goals (initially 70 MT, later 105 MT and finally 130 MT) and to re-use Space Shuttle and Constellation technology.

Spacex and Elon Musk have the 61 page presentation of the Interplanetary Transport System and the plan from early exploration to a sustainable colony on Mars

However, besides the test firings of the new Raptor engine that is needed for the Mars transport, Spacex has also built a full sized carbon composite fuel tank.

The Interplanetary Transport system can launch 550 tons to low earth orbit which is nearly four times as much as the Saturn V. It would be over four times as powerful as the SLS in the final version of the SLS

NASA Space Launch system

Spacex Falcon Heavy