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Europa Clipper to fly on commercial rocket, not SLS

NASA managers have now decided unequivocally to not use SLS to launch Europa Clipper, and will instead choose a commercial rocket in about a year.

During a Feb. 10 presentation at a meeting of NASA’s Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG), leaders of the Europa Clipper project said the agency recently decided to consider only commercial launch vehicles for the mission, and no longer support a launch of the spacecraft on the SLS.

“We now have clarity on the launch vehicle path and launch date,” Robert Pappalardo, project scientist for Europa Clipper at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. That clarity came in the form of a Jan. 25 memo from NASA’s Planetary Missions Program Office to “immediately cease efforts to maintain SLS compatibility” and move forward with a commercial launch vehicle, or CLV, he said.

Though this decision was expected following the approval of the most recent congressional budget for NASA, which contained language allowing NASA to abandon SLS if it thought it wise, this decision continues the string of recent stories that all point toward the eventually abandonment of SLS itself.

At the moment the rocket most likely to win the contract is the Falcon Heavy.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

4 comments

  • Dean Hurt

    YAY Falcon Heavy!! NASA has spent decades frittering it’s spaceflight leadership with incompetence and mostly lack of vision and lack of action. They are paralyzed by bureaucratic ennui and an inability to wean from the government teat!

  • Ray Van Dune

    Last I heard Falcon Heavy would require a Mars – Earth Gravity Assist (MEGA) maneuver, adding a couple of years to the overall flight. But it was not clear whether a fully-expended boost would require that (that is using all the fuel in all three booster cores for delta-v, rather than recovering any of the cores).

    The only booster I can think of that would out-lift Falcon Heavy would be… Super Heavy!! Can it be ready in time?

  • geoffc

    To use Super Heavy, would mean launching as a payload inside the upper stage (Starship) and probably needing a fairly large upper stage for leaving LEO.

    Would be funny to launch a Delta 4 upper stage inside a Starship but I can’t imagine LH2/LOX inside a Starship s a good mix.

  • Ray Van Dune

    The simple architecture of the SH/SS system lends itself to variation. Imagine a Starship configuration that would function as a “traditional” second stage… on steroids! For payloads to the outer planets, forget the Chomper, just use conventional fairing halves. You know what Elon would say if you say it can’t be done in time?

    “Hold my beer…”

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