NASA officials appeared with congressional leaders on Wednesday morning to announce what they called a “monster” new rocket design that will serve as the basis for deep space exploration in the coming decades.

NASA said the “Space Launch System,” or just SLS for short, is the most powerful rocket ever designed, adding that it will one day enable human travel to Mars and enhance exploration of near-Earth asteroids. It is also slated to serve as a backup transport to the International Space Station.

The new rocket’s first flight is tentatively scheduled for 2017.

This video is from NASA, published Sept. 14, 2011.

This video is from NASA, published Sept. 14, 2011.