LOADING...
Text Size
What Is a Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle?
October 27, 2010

[image-12]
A heavy lift launch vehicle is a kind of rocket. "Launch vehicles" are rockets that send people and things into space. Rockets come in many sizes. Some rockets are more powerful than others. Rockets can do many different jobs. Heavy lift rockets are the most powerful rockets. NASA's Saturn V rocket was the most powerful rocket ever to fly.

How Are Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles Used?
Heavy lift launch vehicles can do things that other rockets cannot. They can launch heavier things into orbit. The Saturn V rocket took a whole space station into space in one launch. The Saturn V could send about 130 tons into Earth orbit. That's about the same weight as 10 school buses.

Heavy lift launch vehicles can send large satellites into higher orbits. A communications satellite, for example, might be 22,236 miles high. That's 100 times higher than the space station! They can also be used for missions to other worlds. The Saturn V rocket helped send people to the moon. If we want to go back to the moon or explore other worlds, a heavy lift launch vehicle could be useful.
[image-78]
What Does the Future Hold for Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles?
NASA has a new plan for space exploration. The new plan will someday take humans to Mars. A lot of work has to be done to get there. New machines will have to be made. The president has told NASA to work on a new heavy lift launch vehicle. The new vehicle will use a lot of things NASA has learned about rockets. It will also use brand new ideas. Nobody knows yet what the new rocket will be like. But NASA is working to figure out the best way to explore the solar system.

More About Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles:
› What Is a Rocket?
› What Was the Saturn V?


Read What Is a Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle? Grades 5-8

Return to Homework Topics Grades K-4

David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services

Image Token: 
[image-47]
A Saturn V rocket launches
The Saturn V was NASA's first heavy lift launch vehicle.
Image Credit: 
NASA
Image Token: 
[image-12]
An astronaut walks on Mars
Heavy lift launch vehicles could someday let humans explore Mars.
Image Credit: 
NASA
Image Token: 
[image-78]
Image Token: 
[image-91]
Page Last Updated: February 25th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator