NASA wants to use its SLS mobile launch once, then replace it

Government in action! After spending almost a half billion to reconfigure the Apollo mobile launcher first for Ares and then for SLS, NASA now says it needs to build a completely new mobile launcher to replace it.

Apparently, all the work did not make the mobile launcher usable for the larger SLS that will launch astronauts.

According to Hambleton, NASA has made no decision on a second mobile launcher. She declined to address the question of costs. A 2012 report from NASA’s inspector general estimated the costs of building a new mobile launcher then at $122 million, but a new structure expressly for the larger Block 1B rocket to be used for the second flight of the SLS rocket would almost certainly cost more.

Additionally, If NASA builds a new mobile launcher, the modified one now being configured for the first SLS flight would likely be used just once—a waste of infrastructure that cost perhaps half a billion dollars and more than a decade of development.

The absurdity of this is appalling. They spent a decade and half a billion reconfiguring the mobile launcher, under the guise that reusing the old one saved NASA money. Now they want to build a new one?

Progress freighter launch fails

The launch of a Progress freighter to ISS today has failed, with the freighter ending up crashing into Siberia.

This is very bad news for the station. Everyone in the space industry knows that with the shuttle gone, it will be a challenge to maintain supplies to the station’s the six-person crew. Losing just one supply ship will strain the station’s supplies, if not now in the long run for sure.

Worse, this is the first launch failure of the Soyuz rocket that puts both Progress and manned Soyuz capsule into orbit in more than eleven years. The next manned crew is scheduled for launch on September 21. Whether this failure will delay that launch remains unknown.