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“The Endless SLS Test Firings Act”

The Senate passes a law! In the NASA authorization that was just approved by the Senate and awaits House action was an amendment — inserted by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) — that will essentially require NASA to build an SLS core stage designed for only one purpose, endless testing at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The Stennis-specific provision says NASA should “initiate development of a main propulsion test article for the integrated core stage propulsion elements of the Space Launch System, consistent with cost and schedule constraints, particularly for long-lead propulsion hardware needed for flight.”

So what exactly is a “main propulsion test article,” and why does NASA need one? According to a Senate staffer, who spoke to Ars on background, this would essentially be an SLS core stage built not to fly but to undergo numerous tests at Stennis.

My headline above is essentially stolen from the Eric Berger article at the link. Because this ground test core is not funded, at best it would likely not be ready for testing prior to ’27 or ’28, at the earliest. By then who knows if SLS will even exist any longer, replaced by low-cost and far more useful commercial rockets. Thus, if this Wicker amendment survives, Stennis might be testing a core stage endlessly for a rocket that no longer exists.

And even if SLS is flying, what point is there to test a core stage that never flies? None, except if you wish to create fake jobs in Mississippi for your constituents, as Wicker obviously is trying to do.

Fortunately the bill is merely an authorization, and has not yet passed the House. Much could change before passage, and even after passage money will need to be appropriated to create this fake testing project.

Unfortunately, we are discussing our modern Congress, which has no brains, can’t count, and thinks money grows on trees. I would not bet against this fake testing program becoming law.

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  • Jeff Wright

    Maybe we could shut down wind tunnels too…I want hydrolox testing…because Musk isn’t doing it.

  • Terrence

    One very sad article among a great number of very sad articles written about the far left fake news/democrats/deep state.

  • George C

    I bet that thousands of people would be willing to pay a rock-concert level ticket price to witness in person a full static fire test of a Superheavy. All 32 engines going full thrust for several minutes would be “like mind blowing man.”

    Dude, sign me up.

  • Jeff Wright

    SH will be louder than the Saturns…but N-I’s record will drop. I remember occasional gas jets from a small wall-mount nozzle…and how very loud it was for its size. That from Huntsville…which looks to be attacked by liberal Hollywood again with the new Indiana Jones film. Ford could really make our airspace safe by turning in his pilot’s license before crashing from yet another Duffer moment best held on the links-not the tarmac.

  • James Street

    A high paying job that doesn’t produce anything? I’m more than qualified!

    Where do I apply?

  • Lee Stevenson

    I have a fork lift truck license, can I get a green card? ( Only kidding :-)

  • David M. Cook

    Senator Wicker‘s people would be better served if he spent some time working to get SpaceX or one of the new small launch startups to open up shop at or in this facility. Same with Michoud near New Orleans.

  • Edward

    The congressional branch of government just isn’t catching on that they are not rocket scientists. Laws like this demonstrate that they just don’t have the brains to pull it off. Other laws show that they don’t even have the brains to be lawmakers. In fact, unlike the rest of us, they don’t even have the brains to get their own jobs, needing hundreds or thousands of people to help them out.

    Of course Jeff Wright thinks that we should get out of the aircraft business, because his state doesn’t have much to do with that. Apparently he thinks much like Congress, ‘get money for my state at the expense of every other state.’ However, we do have to wonder what he thinks needs testing after half a century of using hydrolox.

    Wouldn’t it be better if we thought like free market capitalists and developed products that people are willing to pay for, products that people want at a price they can pay? That way everyone wins, the producer, the consumer, and the government that taxes the hell out of both. If rocket companies want to use hydrolox, then they could do their own testing, but they should also be allowed to use NASA’s test facilities just as our aircraft companies are allowed to use NASA wind tunnels (the purpose for which they were built). Unless Jeff gets his way, in which case the wind tunnels will be shut down.

    Musk’s SpaceX is not the only one doing testing, but they all test what their own companies need to know. Few, if any, of them are testing hydrolox, either. Could it be that hydrolox is not the wave of the near future? Perhaps the correct answer for Jeff is to start his own company in order to test whatever he thinks is not yet known about hydrolox. Another benefit is that his company can then make the hydrolox upper stages that he has said he wants to see.

  • wayne

    Joe Rogan / Akira the Don
    “I don’t wanna hear that….”

    (contains adult language & themes)

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