Skip to product information

SciShow Pin of the Month: NASA's Space Launch System

In 2010, before the shuttle fleet was mothballed, the US government knew they’d need a replacement, so Congress gave NASA a budget and mandate to build the SLS. The Space Launch System wasn’t just supposed to replace the shuttle. It needed to return astronauts to the Moon, too. So engineers couldn’t just build Shuttle 2.0. They had to kick things up a few notches.

The SLS rocket was designed to be modular, with different configurations for different missions. Sending humans to the Moon? Use one configuration. Sending a massive space probe on an interplanetary mission? A different configuration! Each configuration, however, has the same core stage with four shuttle main-engines stuck to the bottom. That’s one more than any shuttle used at a time, you need that many if you’re trying to get something all the way into lunar orbit. Combine these pieces of cannibalized space shuttle tech with a brand new paint job, and you can almost believe the SLS is the offspring of the shuttle and the Saturn V.

SLS shot an Orion capsule all the way around the Moon and back on the Artemis I mission, but the next mission, Artemis II, will ferry real people around the Moon. They’ve also started fabrication of the SLS for Artemis III, which hopes to put astronaut boots back on the Moon as early as 2025. This makes the SLS our final rocket pin of the month for 2023!

  • SciShow Pin of the Month for December 2023
  • Celebrates NASA's Space Launch System, or SLS
  • Designed by Nate Biehl
  • 1.25" long with two pin posts and butterfly clasp pins
  • Please note: this item is for preorder, and will not ship before the 2nd week of January, 2024
Regular price
Unit price
SciShow Pin of the Month: NASA's Space Launch System
  • Bundle Option: Pin Only