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Expect long delays after third Artemis mission

Link here. The article outlines from a different perspective the many problems faced by NASA’s Artemis program, specifically related to its SLS rocket.

First, that fourth Artemis mission will require a larger first stage, which is far behind schedule and should not be ready until late 2028 (though I predict at least one to two years beyond that date).

Second, that larger upper stage will require completion of a new mobile launcher platform, replacing the mobile launcher now in use that cost about a half billion and will only be used three times. The new launcher platform however is also behind schedule and overbudget. Its completion is not expected until 2027 (though I predict at least one year beyond that date).

Thus, even if the third Artemis mission flies in 2026, as presently scheduled, it will be at least two years before the fourth can fly, but more likely the gap will be three to four years.

Everything related to NASA’s SLS rocket is a mess. If the people running our government had brains, they would immediately dump it and do everything they can to speed development of Starship/Superheavy, which has a better design, is reusuable, is more powerful, has greater capabilities, and most important of all, will be able to fly frequently and quickly at a very low cost, something that SLS will never be able to do.

Unfortunately, the people running our government have no brains, or to be more precise, refuse to use them because of their own selfish petty interests. SLS will go on, wasting billions. And the effort to squelch Starship/Superheavy will also continue, because these petty federal officials can’t have a private company show them up. No way! It must be their way, or the highway!

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  • Jhon B

    I got a different article in my news feed a few days back. I forget the source, but it was very critical of NASA and basically said they doubted that sls would continue past the next rocket. They compared the cost of that to what SpaceX does and basically said, anyone that has any sanity would stop that project. It also mentioned all the lost opportunities to do other things with the money they are wasting. Hemm, did you write it Bob?(G)

  • Jhon B: Yes, but I did so back in 2011, and many times since. Others are now simply beginning to catch up. :)

  • sippin_bourbon

    “Long delays…”

    Longer than just the first launch?

    No holding my breath.

    I think it would be awesome, if the first time the NASA crew finally gets there, they are met by a film crew that got launched by a commercial team.

  • Ray Van Dune

    And their rover vehicle will be waiting for them… all they’ll have to do is unplug the one with the TESLA logo and head off exploring.


    I’ve been saying for years, when NASA lands their first manned mission on Mars, Elon Musk will great them with hot towels and a ride to their hotel.

  • I think my readers are being far too optimistic about Musk and SpaceX. The company could do all the things you expect, but you are simply forgetting that our federal government is going to work to block SpaceX every step of the way.

    There are no guarantees that any American, private or government, will reach any planet anytime in the next thirty years.

  • pzatchok

    I tend to think that most of your readers are just poking fun at NASA.

    I do not think anyone here has any real delusions about Space X.
    Great hopes yes but bit delusions.

  • Jeff Wright

    SLS is flight proven…just not as supported like F-35 and this new bomber. That’s eating far more tax dollars.

    I just want SLS stripped from Boeing and given to the DIRECT guys, and maybe they and Musk could work together…a stop gap Elonergia or something…

  • pzatchok

    The SLS launchers are thrown away.

    The fighters and bombers of our military are not.

  • Trent Castanaveras

    Elon / SpaceX wouldn’t touch SLS with a ten foot cattle prod.

  • John

    I like to think my delusions are real, about SpaceX and the rest of bizzaro tyranny world.

    SpaceX isn’t doing anything other than launch Falcon9, as long as Musk is not a party member.

  • Jay

    I noticed that they only mentioned the flights up to Artemis IV. So NASA has stated in the past they had sixteen RS-25 shuttle engines. Now down to 12 after the first launch.
    I know that the Artemis flight manifest so far is only up to six flights. The new RS-25 test article engine passed it’s testing at Stennis last June. So Aerojet is making 18 new engines at over a $100M each. Will they use the excuse that since we have the engines, we need to build more rockets?

  • Richard M

    Thus, even if the third Artemis mission flies in 2026, as presently scheduled

    Which it won’t.

    Eric Berger’s famed industry source predicts “2028 NET.” Even that might be optimistic.

  • James Street

    “Everything related to NASA’s SLS rocket is a mess.”

    Sadly NASA is one of the most effectively run government agencies.

  • mkent

    ”First, that fourth Artemis mission will require a larger first stage…”

    No, it won’t. The first stage for Artemis IV will be a near copy of the stage for Artemis III.

    ”…which is far behind schedule and should not be ready until late 2028…”

    No, it should be ready by 2026. The core stage for Artemis II has just completed engine installation and is undergoing final close-out work before delivery. The stage for Artemis III is following behind it on the assembly line and is due for delivery in mid 2025. The stage for Artemis IV should follow 12-18 months after that.

    ”Everything related to NASA’s SLS rocket is a mess.”

    SLS is the only part of Artemis currently on schedule. The core stage for Artemis II is nearly ready for delivery. The SRB segments have already been shipped to the launch site and are nearly ready for stacking. The second stage has been complete for years. Were it not waiting for its Orion payload, SLS could support an Artemis II launch **this** year, not maybe next year.

    The long pole by far in the Artemis III schedule is Starship HLS, not SLS. NASA’s OIG has already formally tagged Starship for a one-year delay in launch of Artemis III, though they state they expect another three years of delays beyond that before it finally flies. The enhanced Starship for Artemis IV will follow even further after that.

    So the long pole for Artemis II is Orion, not SLS. The long pole for Artemis III is Starship, not SLS. The long pole for Artemis IV is Starship and I-Hab, not SLS. And I predict the long pole for Artemis V will be Blue Moon, not SLS.

    I know the SpaceX fanboys like to rag on SLS, but if Artemis IV is delayed until 2028, it won’t be because of SLS.

  • mkent: Though your comments are welcome, you will stop referring to those you disagree with insulting terms like “fanboys”. This is unnecessary and violates my rules.

    I could warn you but you have been a regular reader and commenter for quite awhile, and should know better. You are suspended for a week.

  • pawn

    Only “insults” directed towards the approved enemies are allowed.

  • pzatchok

    SLS is behind its first estimated dates of completion.

    They are only on time of you use last weeks estimated time lines.

    Thats how NASA does it. If the contractor can not make the first delivery dates they just adjust them.

    The WEB telescope launched on time also. And under budget to boot.

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