More overruns in NASA’s SLS program, this time with the mobile launchers


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A new inspector general report [pdf] has found massive cost overruns in NASA over the building of the two mobile launch platforms the agency will use to launch its SLS rocket.

The original budget for the first mobile launch was supposed to be $234 million. NASA has now spent $927 million.

Worse, this platform will see limited use, as it was designed for the first smaller iteration of SLS, which NASA hopes to quickly replace with a more powerful version. Afterward it will become obsolete, replaced by the second mobile launch platform, now estimated to cost $486 million.

That’s about $1.5 billion just to build the launch platforms for SLS. That’s only a little less than SpaceX will spend to design, test, build, and launch its new Starship/Super Heavy rocket. And not only will Starship/Super Heavy be completely reusable, it will launch as much if not more payload into orbit as SLS.

But don’t worry. Our geniuses in Congress will continue to support SLS no matter the cost, even if it bankrupts NASA and prevents any real space exploration. They see its cost overruns, long delays, and inability to accomplish anything as a benefit, pumping money into their states and districts in order to buy votes.

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7 comments

  • hondo

    I just wish they would take all their money and pile it into an actual space plane
    Cargo and light. Long overdue. Have grown weary of rockets/roman candles lifting/muscling off.

  • wayne

    Casablanca
    1942
    -The appropriate clip-
    https://youtu.be/nM_A4Skusro
    0:42

  • sippin_bourbon

    Budget $234 million.
    Spent $927 Million.

    That is not an over run. That is a clear and absolute failure.

  • MDN

    That is not an over run. That is a clear and absolute failure.

    No. That is criminal negligence!

    MHO anyway.

  • geoffc

    @MDN – in their defense (I cannot believe I am defending them) I believe the design for the MLP changed several times during its construction and they had to redo major elements. I.e The entire thing was a cluster-frack, except no natural gas or oil was retrieved.

    But this is a giant waste across the board.

  • commodude

    Even for a .gov program that’s a budget buster.

    Littoral Combat Ship program only doubled the initial cost estimate per hull.

  • JDubya_AZ

    All the specifications and bureaucracy in government is what makes this a boon doggle.
    I worked with WSTF in NM on a project that was specified in 2007, bid in 2008, awarded in 2010, then took us four (4) years to complete as we kept having to go through hoops and what was worth, NASA staff (as well as the contractor) took forever to approve of any items, drawings, etc. Their methods of receipt were archaic and test procedures took too much time (you literally spent the day to check list items, then on the following day, have to review before turning on power).
    It’s amazing we got to the moon in the first place.
    Private business will do better, until gov’t begins to regulate.

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