NASA wants to use its SLS mobile launch once, then replace it


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Government in action! After spending almost a half billion to reconfigure the Apollo mobile launcher first for Ares and then for SLS, NASA now says it needs to build a completely new mobile launcher to replace it.

Apparently, all the work did not make the mobile launcher usable for the larger SLS that will launch astronauts.

According to Hambleton, NASA has made no decision on a second mobile launcher. She declined to address the question of costs. A 2012 report from NASA’s inspector general estimated the costs of building a new mobile launcher then at $122 million, but a new structure expressly for the larger Block 1B rocket to be used for the second flight of the SLS rocket would almost certainly cost more.

Additionally, If NASA builds a new mobile launcher, the modified one now being configured for the first SLS flight would likely be used just once—a waste of infrastructure that cost perhaps half a billion dollars and more than a decade of development.

The absurdity of this is appalling. They spent a decade and half a billion reconfiguring the mobile launcher, under the guise that reusing the old one saved NASA money. Now they want to build a new one?

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5 comments

  • LocalFluff

    Everything with the SLS has been totally redesigned from the ground up. It has no heritage at all from the space shuttle. And it is of course much more expensive and takes many more years to totally redesign every single detail in an existing launch system, than to start from scratch. The Soviets learned that the hard way when they tried to copy the Concorde through industrial espionage. It killed a bunch of high communists in its crashes until it was canceled (the Senate Launch System will unfortunately not live up to its nick name in that respect).

    That is a major concern for its reliability! Not any single component of the thingy has any record of flight history. My expectations are that at least half of the first five SLS+Orion launches fail, which is normal for completely out of the blue untested new launchers. And NASA does nothing but follow exactly that tradition. No attempt to innovate anything at all.

    The Planetary Society has over the years celebrated each and everyone of these NASA budget sink holes and delays. They apparently are totally uninterested in planetary exploration and just think it is fun that tax payers pay for some guys meaninglessly playing with LEGO. The welder, the gates of the assembly building, the crawler, the launch pad, the barge, the main engines, the solid boosters, the upper stage, the launch escape tower and on and on and on and on still with no end in sight.

    The opposite idea of the SLS would’ve been to base a new launcher on existing space shuttle technologies. That idea was completely rejected. Maybe it was impossible because of lost tooling and organization over the 40 years since those production facilities were in operation. Everything had to be created from scratch with no previous experience applicable.

    Hearing about the SLS and Orion (and now the DSG) is precisely like seeing a small child’s drawing. It is overly excitedly described as an illustration of an elephant living in a house. But it doesn’t look anything like it and the only thoughts are about the child’s mental state and temper (and need for a diaper shift, and what damage has been done to the surrounding furniture this time). There is nothing to be said about SLS+Orion+DSG technically. It is nothing but a subject for therapy. Rocket science and space exploration are in no way involved in this zero result psycho analytical talking topic.

  • LocalFluff

    SLS = Szero Legacy Szero innovation.
    Exploration of two worlds indeed, the worst of both worlds of legacy and innovation!

  • Bill

    They say it will take 33 months to upgrade the existing launcher. I’m sure a new launcher would add at least another 10 years before they can actually attempt a first launch on the new launcher.

  • Steve

    Isn’t the Saturn V in Houston pretty much complete? I think the one in Florida has a test article for its first stage. Florida also has the Skylab rescue capsule, along with the Saturn 1B to carry it.

    I joke that we could take that one and make it flight ready before SLS ever gets off the ground. Heck, a few years ago they got some F1s out of storage and fired up the turbo pump motor for a bit. There’s a great story about it on Ars Technica. They also laser scanned one of the engines to put it in a CAD program.

  • ken anthony

    That SLS is still around is all you need to know about govt. It’s way beyond time to replace them with small govt. believers.

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