NASA admits that it is struggling to meet the 2017 launch date for SLS


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Delays in the construction of Orion’s European-built service module as well as cracks in the spacecraft’s heat shield are threatening the planned 2017 launch date for Orion’s first test flight, unmanned, beyond Earth orbit.

Note that this program, costing anywhere from $10 to $20 billion, is only building a handful of capsules for flying three or four test flights. Beyond that, there is no money.

I have predicted this before, and I will predict it again: SLS will never take any humans anywhere. The cost is too high, the bureaucracy too complex, and the schedule is too slow. It will vanish when the new private companies begin flying humans into space in the next three years.

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4 comments

  • geoffc

    I agree.

    I predict Nov 2014 D-H-Orion launch will happen.
    2017 mission will happen.
    And probably never again. If orion ever launches again, it will be a scaled down version on a Falcon Heavy.

    Once falcon heavy is operational, and if SpaceX succeeds with BFR then SLS is dead in the water.

  • DK Williams

    Whatever happened to the NASA of the sixties? Oh yes. They were the can-do remnants of the World War II generation. Now we have the can-not generation in charge.

  • Dick Eagleson

    NASA’s internal documents show EM-1 having slipped to Sept. 30, 2018. NASA also intends to slip in a third unmanned test of SLS after EM-1 and the AA-2 in-flight abort test. This mission, which has no designation yet, would test fly the Exploration Upper Stage, a quad-RL-10 “Centaur on steroids” that NASA wants to use on the first manned flight, EM-2. NASA’s own rules prohibit it from flying people on an untried stage.

    Based on SLS’s maximum contemplated flight rate of once every two years, if EM-1 has indeed slipped to 2018, then AA-2 probably can’t go before 2020, the Exploration Upper Stage unmanned test can’t occur before 2022 and EM-2, the first manned mission can’t go until 2024. As Dr. Z correctly points out, commercial providers will have put so many new facts on the ground and in orbit by even 2018 that SLS will be an obviously unaffordable redundancy. Sept. 2018 is also 20 months into the term of President 45 who will likely have cancelled SLS and Orion sometime during the previous year.

    I not only don’t see SLS-Orion ever carrying people, I don’t see them ever flying at all. The “Orion” slated to fly atop a Delta IV Heavy this December is barely more than a boilerplate mockup. It will be without most of the systems that would be required for real missions. It won’t have a real service module, for instance, as the ESA is only building two for us and the thing is too heavy for a D-IV Heavy to boost uphill along with the seriously obese Orion. There will also be no life-support hardware aboard. The whole mission is an Ares-1X-like stunt.

  • Minor correction: “Dr. Z” is incorrect. I have no Phd. I am merely a former film producer who switched to science writing because it focused on achievement rather than making very bad horror films.

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