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NASA now targeting late August launch of SLS

NASA officials today confirmed that they are satisfied with the results from this week’s incomplete dress rehearsal countdown of the SLS rocket, and are targeting a late August launch of SLS.

NASA officials have reviewed the data collected during the test run and decided that a leaky hydrogen valve was not significant enough to force a delay in the launch of Artemis I, an uncrewed mission planning to orbit the moon and return to Earth. It’s the first step toward putting humans back on the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972.

“The team is now ready to take the next step and prepare for launch,” said NASA’s deputy associate administrator Tom Whitmeyer.

NASA officials said they will roll the massive Space Launch System rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, where the valve’s faulty seal will be replaced. Rollback is slated for Friday July 1, though weather concerns could push that back.

SLS won the five-plus year race with the Webb telescope on which would have the most delays and launch last. Now the race will be between SLS and SpaceX’s Starship/Superheavy. Which will launch first this summer? In a rational world, SLS should win hands down. It has been in development since 2004, while Starship only began design work in 2017.

This is not a rational world, however, and SLS’s long gestation had little to do with designing a rocket and everything to do with politics and a corrupt Congress and an incompetent NASA. The rocket that has come out of this is thus difficult to operate and incredibly cumbersome. Its components have also not been tested thoroughly.

SpaceX meanwhile has been designing and building its heavy-lift rocket with only one goal: the rocket must be efficient to operate.

I predict Starship will reach orbit first, though if it doesn’t it most likely will be because SpaceX finds it needs to do more ground tests and revisions, not because SLS has surged ahead. And regardless, Starship will likely fly many times in the next three years, while SLS will only get off the ground once.

More important, the chances of SLS and Orion working perfectly throughout that that lunar orbit mission seem almost impossible, based on track record during the past eighteen years of both programs. Expect some issues to crop up, first during the launch countdown, forcing several scrubs, and then during the mission itself. None might be mortal, but all will raise questions whether it would be wise to put humans on this rocket and capsule on its next flight, and attempt to take them to the Moon.


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 are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also 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.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Jeff Wright

    I have this feeling they may launch within hours of each other.

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “SpaceX meanwhile has been designing and building its heavy-lift rocket with only one goal: the rocket must be efficient to operate.

    I would add a second goal: “be flexible enough to take orbital payloads and propellants to low Earth orbit as well as take men and materiel to and from other worlds.”

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