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NASA marches on! After developing the J-2X engine for the upper stage of its SLS heavy-lift rocket, NASA now plans to mothball it.
While the agency is actively seeking other missions for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) in the planetary science and military arenas, most of the human flights it has in sight for the big new rocket probably can be accomplished with an upper stage powered by the RL-10 engine instead of the J-2X. “The J-2X for certain [design reference missions] is somewhat overpowered,” said Todd May, NASA’s SLS program manager.
The main cause of this absurd situation is Congress, which has micro-managed the development of SLS from day one.