Tag Archives: Space Launch System

Former NASA shuttle head outlines a pessimistic future for NASA expensive Space Launch System.

Former NASA shuttle head outlines a pessimistic future for NASA expensive Space Launch System.

Continuing to develop programs in the same old ways, from my observations, will certainly lead to cancellation as government budgets are stretched thin.”

Ya think?

The Space Launch System is a threat to JSC, Texas jobs

An op-ed in Houston: “The Space Launch System is a threat to JSC, Texas jobs.”

It appears that even some NASA employees are beginning to see the madness of spending billions on a launch system that will likely only fly one mission almost a decade from now. And it will seem even more mad to more people should Dragon and Cygnus prove successful in the coming year.

To put it bluntly, the long term politics are very much hostile to SLS. It is going to die, if only because the federal government is bankrupt and can’t afford it. I just wish our elected officials had the brains to realize this now rather than three years down the road.

Explaining the limits of the Congressionally mandated Space Launch System

Explaining the limits of the Congressionally mandated Space Launch System.

In trying to explain why SLS can never function as a crew ferry for ISS, I think Muncy also illustrates why the whole system makes no sense and is really a complete waste of money. Consider this:

SLS’s first uncrewed test flight would be in December 2017, with the first crewed mission nearly four years later, in late 2021. Even worse, NASA’s plan showed that Orion and SLS would be able to fly only one exploration mission every two (or more) years.

We are spending a lot of money for very little results.

NASA picks the Delta 4 Heavy to launch Orion into orbit on its first test flight

NASA has chosen the Delta 4 Heavy rocket to launch the Orion capsule into orbit for its first test flight in 2014.

So, tell me again why NASA needs to spend $18 to $62 billion for a new rocket, when it already can hire Lockheed Martin to do the same thing? Though the Delta 4 Heavy can only get about 28 tons into low Earth orbit, and only about 10 tons into geosynchronous orbit — far less than the planned heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket — Boeing Lockheed has a variety of proposed upgrades to Delta 4 Heavy that could bring these numbers way up. Building these upgrades would surely be far cheaper than starting from scratch to build SLS.

Corrected above as per comments below.

Another look at the cost of building NASA’s heavy lift rocket

Clark Lindsey takes another look at the cost for building the Congressionally-mandated heavy lift rocket, what NASA calls the Space Launch System and I call the program-formerly-called-Constellation. Key quote:

Finally, I’ll point out that there was certainly nothing on Wednesday that refuted the findings in the Booz Allen study that NASA’s estimates beyond the 3-5 year time frame are fraught with great uncertainty. Hutchison and Nelson claimed last week that since the near term estimates were reliable, there’s no reason to delay getting the program underway. That’s the sort of good governance that explains why programs often explode “unexpectedly” in cost after 3-5 years…

In other words, this is what government insiders call a “buy-in.” Offer low-ball budget numbers to get the project off the ground, then when the project is partly finished and the much higher real costs become evident, Congress will be forced to pay for it. Not only has this been routine practice in Washington for decades, I can instantly cite two projects that prove it:
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NASA to unveil its heavy-lift rocket design

Two stories, one from AP and the other from Florida Today, say that NASA will announce today the design of its heavy-lift rocket, mandated by Congress and estimated to cost around $35 billion. Here is NASA’s press release. To me, this is the key quote (from AP):

NASA figures it will be building and launching about one rocket a year for about 15 years or more in the 2020s and 2030s, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement was not yet made. The idea is to launch its first unmanned test flight in 2017 with the first crew flying in 2021 and astronauts heading to a nearby asteroid in 2025, the officials said. From there, NASA hopes to send the rocket and astronauts to Mars — at first just to circle, but then later landing on the Red Planet — in the 2030s. [emphasis mine]

In other words, after spending $1.7 on the National Space Plane, $1.2 billion on the X-33, $1 billion on the X-34, $800 million on the Space Launch Initiative, and finally, almost $10 billion on Constellation, none of which ever flew, NASA is now going to spend another $35 billion on a new rocket that won’t fly for at least another decade.

To be really blunt, this new rocket, like all its predecessors, will never fly either. It costs too much, will take too long to build, and will certainly be canceled by a future administration before it is finished. It is therefore a complete waste of money, and any Congress that approves it will demonstrate how utterly insincere they are about controlling spending.

A clarification: Some of the $35 billion mentioned above has already been spent for the Orion capsule. This however still does not change any of my conclusions.