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SLS launch now definitely delayed until July, at the earliest

NASA yesterday admitted that with the decision to return SLS to the vehicle assembly building (VAB) before completing its dress rehearsal countdown, it is now impossible to launch SLS in the June launch window as planned, and that the earliest the rocket could launch would be July.

This summary of the issues that dogged the rocket during the three attempts to complete that dress rehearsal illustrates the likelihood that SLS has many engineering loose ends still unresolved:

On April 3 it was malfunctioning fans on the Mobile Launcher needed to clear hazardous fumes. On April 4, it was a defective helium check valve on the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, ICPS, the Space Launch System’s second stage. On April 14, it was a hydrogen leak on the SLS first stage, or Core Stage.

Once again, having such problems during the first countdown of a new rocket is not unusual. What is questionable is only finding them now, at the very end of the rocket’s development.

I predict the launch will be further delayed until the fall, at which time NASA might face a much more serious issue regarding SLS’s two strap-on solid rocket boosters. During the shuttle era NASA had always placed a one year limit on their use once they were stacked, because it was believed that standing in a vertical position for too long could warp and distort the solid rocket fuel, thus causing it to burn improperly during launch.

These boosters were first stacked near the end of 2020, so their use-by date should have been January 2022, at the latest. Not launching until the fall will place them nine to eleven months past that date. And since these boosters are taller than the one’s used by the shuttle, they are heavier which makes extending that lifespan even riskier.

Thus, if NASA decides it must replace the boosters, that will likely delay the launch another three to six months, pushing it into ’23 at the earliest. If NASA decides to go with these boosters, it poses a real risk of failure during launch, a failure that will certainly destroy the rocket.

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.

8 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    SLS, the gift that keeps on giving

  • geoffc

    Hmm, I guess the Starship FAA review iwll have to be delayed again and again, so that SLS can launch first… Political interference? Nah, never!

  • sippin_bourbon

    “The gift that keeps on giving”

    Isn’t that the definition of “contract-plus”?

  • George C

    I wonder what launch insurance would cost? https://axaxl.com/insurance/products/space-insurance
    Divide by zero error.

  • Jeff Wright

    I wonder if SLS is being sabotaged until Starship flies to orbit at this point,

  • john hare

    “””Jeff Wright
    April 19, 2022 at 10:30 pm
    I wonder if SLS is being sabotaged until Starship flies to orbit at this point,”””

    There’s no need for outsiders to sabotage SLS when it’s doing such a fine job of it on its’ own.

  • Star Bird

    If we had to wait for these foot dragging imbeciles Russia would be colonizing the Moon then going onto Mars

  • GaryMike

    The first folks/companies to get into space get to create the new solar system economy. It will quickly become far larger than Earth’s.

    A lot of people controlling Earth’s economic systems and financial resources are probably terrified by the thought they will become like peasants.

    Earth may be Origin, but soon it will just be an ignorable annoyance.

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