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[i]Congress ordered an SLS able to lift 130 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), which is a generally accepted requirement for launching a Mars mission. But for missions to the [vicinity of the] Moon, where a lot of Mars-precursor missions are being planned, a 105-ton SLS is probably sufficient, according to Steve Creech, May's deputy, who is responsible for finding other applications for the SLS.
One way to get to that capability would be with a "dual-use upper stage" carrying three or four RL-10s. All of them would ignite to get the payload — an Orion crew capsule, in-space habitat or lunar lander — into LEO, and then some subset of that number would fire for the trans-lunar injection to send the payload toward the Moon.
NASA hasn't ruled out using the J-2X for that portion of the trip, but it could be faster to develop the dual-use stage than the originally planned SLS upper stage powered by the J-2X, and a cryogenic propulsion stage (CPS) for getting into lunar orbit.[/i]
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