Tag Archives: J-X2

NASA builds a $349 million test stand it knows it will never need

SLS marches on! Though Obama cancelled the Constellation rocket program in 2010, NASA continued to build a $349 million engine test stand for that rocket, finishing the tower in June 2014.

The test stand was also significantly over budget. It now sits useless, since the SLS rocket will use a different untested engine in its upper stage during its first manned flight.

It is every important to underline the chronology here. The rocket was cancelled in 2010. Construction on the test stand continued however for four more years, partly because of decisions by NASA management and partly because of mandates forced on them by Congress.

Stories like this illustrate why I think the political clout of SLS is weak. The program is too expensive, is riddled with waste, and it can’t accomplish anything anyway, making it a perfect target for both muckraking journalists and elected officials who want to make a name for themselves saving the taxpayer’s money. And both have a perfect inexpensive and successful alternative to turn to: private space.