Babbage: NASA’s newish rocket

NASA’s giant new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will soon embark on its maiden journey to lunar orbit. The launcher is designed to send humans back to the Moon, but was built on old technology, and is years late and shockingly over budget. Does NASA even need a successor to the Space Shuttle, when Elon Musk’s SpaceX is developing a cheaper, more powerful alternative? Host Alok Jha examines the politics behind the SLS and the role of NASA against the backdrop of a now-flourishing, innovative, private-sector space industry.

Listen to our guide to SpaceX’s Starship rocket at

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