US space research agency Nasa has inked a $2.8 billion contract with Boeing, to build an advanced rocket that is intended to carry payloads weighing up to 143 tons, and for use in its futuristic manned Mars mission.
Through its partnership with Boeing, Nasa intends to develop and build the Space Launch System (SLS), which is set to be the "most powerful" space rocket.
The latest partnership between Nasa and Boeing was finalised after Boeing Co. conducted a critical design review of the SLS.
According to an LA Times report, the entire SLS system will have a length of 321 feet, and will be boosted by RS-25 rocket engines.
Work on the extremely powerful SLS will take place in the American state of California, and the rocket will be designed to carry Nasa's Orion spaceship.
The spaceship, which is designed to carry astronauts into low Earth orbit, is being developed for Nasa's future deep-space missions.
As the space agency has an asteroid capture mission and an ambitious Manned Mars expedition lined up for immediate future, a slew of modifications to Orion would be imperative.
The SLS is expected to take off on an initial test flight in 2017 and it will involve onboard crew members along with payload. The rocket would be designed to undertake two low-earth orbit expeditions.
Recently, Nasa had unveiled a prototype of its Warp Drive' spacecraft. The 'Faster than Light' space vehicle is based on the 1944 concept of Alcubierre Drive, which states that any space vehicle can travel faster than light if a configurable energy density field lower than vacuum is created.