The successor to the Space Shuttle could be ready for liftoff as early as 2018. When it does take off, NASA's Space Launch System will be able to carry 70 metric tons of supplies into orbit. Later, it could send payloads of up to 130 metric tons into a trajectory towards Mars.
At 382 feet tall, the SLS will eventually be the largest launch vehicle ever built, and even more powerful than the Saturn V rockets that carried the Apollo astronauts to the Moon. "This payload capacity far exceeds the capability of current and planned commercial launch vehicles," says the report.
Along with the Orion crew capsule (also in development at NASA), the SLS could eventually carry astronauts to Mars and other deep space destinations
Martian astronauts could spend a year or more on the Red Planet. During that time, they'll want to roam around outside, exploring and collecting data. New spacesuits will need to protect against Mars' damaging radiation and cold, thin atmosphere, while still allowing the astronauts to do their work. Today's spacesuits are a lot like balloons, making it hard to move around--especially the hands. But researchers are designing outfits that are easier to get around in. They may also incorporate augmented reality, self-healing materials, and interwoven bio-monitors.NASA plans to test a next-gen spacesuit when it sends astronauts to rendezvous with a boulder during the Asteroid Redirect Mission.