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The coming final flight of the shuttle’s solid rocket booster segments

Link here. As NASA begins the assembly process for its first long-delayed SLS launch sometime in the next year. the article at the link outlines in detail the space shuttle history of the many reused segments used to build the rocket’s two solid rocket boosters.

All together, the Artemis I solid rocket booster segments previously helped launch 40 space shuttle missions dating back 30 years.

The oldest cylinder, which will fly as part of the booster mounted on the right side of the SLS core stage, first lifted off on the STS-31 mission with the Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990. It was then used for six more shuttle flights, including Endeavour’s debut on STS-49 in 1992 and STS-95 in 1998, which lifted off with Mercury astronaut and senator John Glenn as part of its crew.

Other notable missions that are part of the Artemis 1 boosters’ legacy include: STS-71, which marked the first shuttle docking with the Russian space station Mir in 1995; STS-93, which deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory and marked the first spaceflight commanded by a woman, Eileen Collins, in 1999; STS-114, the return to flight after the loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2005; and STS-133, the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery in 2011.

The hardware also includes new components, including the two forward domes, two cylinders and four stiffeners.

This first SLS launch however will be the last time these segments will fly. Unlike the shuttle, NASA is making no effort to recover and reuse these boosters.

The shuttle effort to reuse these booster segments was never really very cost effective, so not reusing them on SLS might actually save money. Those savings however are chicken feed when compared to SLS’s overall cost. The problem really is with SLS’s fundamental design: cumbersome, slow, expensive, and difficult to use.

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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.

3 comments

  • sippin_bourbon

    I have been looking, but not yet found, a good argument for why the expendable SLS system is better.

    I mean, big. Okay. Lots lift, yes. But why so committed to this design.

    I know the argument here. It’s for jobs in congressional districts/states. But what argument is being made from their side on why this is better?

  • Dick Eagleson

    The argument has always been that SLS is necessary to do deep space missions. The expense and severe production limitation are ignored or hand-waved away. There has never been any argument that SLS is better than some alternative because there is nothing that can put as much mass into LEO. SH-Starship, will, of course, exceed SLS’s LEO payload numbers but SH-Starship seems to be “that which we do not acknowledge” around MSFC and Boeing. Also unacknowledged, or hand-waved away, is that a pair of FHs can also put more mass into LEO than SLS and at a small fraction of the latter’s cost, even if both FHs are also totally expended in the process.

    SLS isn’t going to die of logic or it would have succumbed long since. It’s going to die of terminal irrelevance once SH-Starship is operational – assuming it doesn’t die first due to a massive test failure.

  • Edward

    sippin_bourbon,

    When SLS was started, the commercial cargo program was not yet proved, and many had doubts that a commercial company could be capable of getting a spacecraft to successfully berth at a space station, much less be able to keep astronauts alive in space. Thus Orion-SLS was better than anything available.

    The current Commercial Crew spacecraft are not designed for deep space work, so there is not enough confidence that they could be used for that purpose. So far, this makes Orion-SLS better. (I find it so very ironic that Boeing, with its decades of experience, including ISS manufacture (prime contractor), was the company that had trouble docking to the ISS. No wonder NASA is so disappointed in them.)

    On the other hand, it all depends upon what “better” means. The Block 2 version of SLS is meant to carry more to low Earth orbit than Starship. That could make SLS “better” than Starship. Since this capacity was one of Congress’s requirements, there is a possibility that Congress could fund SLS even after the less expensive Starship becomes operational.

    In the meantime, I consider SLS to be the U.S. equivalent of (or response to) Russia’s Energia, which flew a grand total of two times. If SLS beats that, would it make SLS better than Energia?

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