NASA buys 18 new space shuttle engines for SLS for $1.79 billion
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NASA has awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne a $1.79 billion contract to build 18 new space shuttle R-25 engines for its still unlaunched SLS rocket.
In plain math, that equals $100 million per engine. Since SLS uses four of these engines per launch, and since that rocket is entirely expendable and will thus throw these engines away after each launch, that guarantees each SLS launch must cost no less than $400 million, about four times the price of a Falcon Heavy launch.
But wait, there’s more! Eric Berger at Ars Technica notes
NASA has previously given more than $1 billion to Aerojet to “restart” production of the space shuttle era engines and a contract for six new ones. So, according to the space agency, NASA has spent $3.5 billion for a total of 24 rocket engines. That comes to $146 million per engine. (Or 780,000 bars of Gold-Pressed Latinum, as this is a deal only the Ferengi could love.)
That means each SLS launch must cost a minimum of just under $600 million, and that’s just the price for the four engines. It doesn’t include the rocket itself, the ground systems, its upper stages, or any other component.
But wait, there’s more! Berger also reminds us that SpaceX estimates the cost to build each its Starship Raptor engines to be about $1 million, and each will be used multiple times. He also points out that the Raptor is actually more powerful than the R-25 engine.
That’s okay though. This is the federal government, run by Washington, whose goal for the few decades has been to let no project succeed, and to waste as much money as possible in the process. And if they can squelch the dreams and aspirations of everyone else as they do it, so much the better!