- Parabolic Arc
- June 7, 2023
SLS Set to Make Debut on Monday
by Douglas Messier
The long-awaited launch of NASA’s Space Launch System is scheduled for Monday morning. The massive rocket is scheduled to launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on an extended checkout around the moon.
It will be the first launch of a vehicle capable of carrying crew to Earth’s closest celestial neighbor since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.
If the Artemis I mission is successful, NASA plans to fly crew around the moon on the next flight in about two years. That would be followed by a landing of two astronauts at the lunar south pole aboard the Human Landing System during the Artemis III mission as early as 2025.
In addition to Artemis I, SpaceX is scheduled to launch 46 Starlink satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Wednesday. China is scheduled to launch a Long March 4C rocket with an unidentified payload on Friday.
Monday, August 29
Launch Vehicle: Space Launch System Block 1
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center
Launch Window: 8:33-10:33 a.m. EDT (12:33-14:33 UTC)
Launching Agency: NASA
Payloads: Orion lunar spacecraft, 10 secondary payloads
Primary Payload Purpose: Flight test around the moon
Secondary Payload Purposes: See below
Artemis I Secondary Payloads
|ArgoMoon||Italian Space Agency||Heliocentric||Spacecraft will demonstrate capacity of CubeSats to conduct precise maneuvers in deep space by providing detailed images of the SLS’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage|
|BioSentinel||NASA||Heliocentric||Spacecraft will use budding yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on DNA repair|
|CuSP||NASA||Heliocentric||Space weather measurements|
|EQUULEUS||University of Tokyo||Earth-moon L2||6U CubeSat will measure the distribution of plasma around Earth|
|LunaH-Map||NASA||Selenocentric||Lunar polar orbiter will search for evidence of frozen water deposits|
|Lunar IceCube||NASA||Selenocentric||Lunar orbiter will search for frozen water deposits|
|LunIR||Lockheed Martin Space||Heliocentric||Demonstration technology to collect surface spectroscopy and thermography|
|Near-Earth Asteroid Scout||NASA||Heliocentric||Technology demonstration of solar sail to rendezvous with asteroid|
|OMOTENASHI||Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)||Selenocentric||Smallest vehicle to attempt lunar lander|
|Team Miles||Fluid and Reason, LLC||Heliocentric||Technology demonstration of plasma thrusters|
Wednesday, August 31
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Company: SpaceX
Launch Site: Vandenberg Space Force Base
Launch Time: 1:40 a.m. EDT/05:40 GMT; 10:40 p.m. PDT on Aug. 30
Payloads: 46 Starlink
Payload Purpose: Broadband communications
Payload Owner: SpaceX
Friday, September 2
Launch Vehicle: Long March 4C
Launch Company: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center
Launch Time: TBA
PAST WEEK IN LAUNCHES
There were two Chinese launches and an American one during the past week.
SpaceX launched another 54 Starlink satellites on Saturday night from a launch complex at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida just down the coast from where NASA’s Space Launch System is set to make its maiden flight on Monday morning.
China launched twice earlier in the week, orbiting a pair of technology demonstration satellites and an Earth observation spacecraft.
Aug. 21-28, 2022
Launch Vehicle: Kuaizhou 1A
Launch Company: ExPace
Launch Site: Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Payloads: Chuangxin-16A, Chuangxin-16B
Payload Purpose: Technology demonstration
Payload Owner: Chinese Academy of Sciences
Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D
Launch Company: CASC
Launch Site: Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center
Payload Purpose: Earth observation
Payload Owner: Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Company: SpaceX
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Payloads: 54 Starlink
Payload Purpose: Broadband communications
Payload Owner: SpaceX
There have been 108 orbital launches this year, with 104 successes and four failures.
U.S. companies have launched 55 times this year, with 53 successes and two failures. SpaceX has succesfully launched 38 Falcon 9 rockets this year, representing 35.2% of global flights. Both U.S. failures were by Astra Space, which retired its Rocket 3.3 booster.
Orbital Launches by Nation
January – August 28, 2022
|Nation||Successes||Failures||Total||Percentage of Total Launches||Notes|
|United States||53||2||55||50.9||Includes Rocket Lab Electron launches from New Zealand; final flight of Rocket 3.3 (failure)|
|China||33||1||34||31.5||Crew, cargo and module launches to space station; successful maiden flights of Long March 6A and ZK-1A|
|Russia||12||0||12||11.1||Successful maiden flight of Angara-1.2; includes 1 Soyuz ST-B launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana conducted by Arianespace|
|India||2||1||3||2.8||2 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (success), Small Satellite Launch Vehicle debut (failure — maiden flight)|
|Europe||2||0||2||1.9||Ariane 5, maiden flight of Vega-C|
|Iran||1||0||1||0.9||Qased launch vehicle|
|South Korea||1||0||1||0.9||First successful launch of domestically produced orbital launch vehicle (Nuri); second sucessful orbital launch by nation|
China has conducted 33 successful launches and experienced one failure. Russia has launched a dozen times, India thrice with one failure, and Europe twice. Iran and South Korea have one launch apiece. Japan is still not yet on the board.
106 responses to “SLS Set to Make Debut on Monday”
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Best wishes for a very successful mission!
Best wishes to the researchers and workers vested in this mission. For the vehicle itself, the best I can muster is indifference. Not wishing ill, but just don’t care as it is irrelevant to development of space.
Just don’t care huh? Disgusting spacex fanboy nonsense. Swear allegiance to Musk and renounce your U.S. citizenship. The NewSpace ideology is far-right libertarian anti-American garbage. So sick of the worst creeps on the internet.
But I will give you this, at least you are being honest about your disloyalty. Several other Musk fanboys who I have watched write small books of death-to-SLS and NASA-bashing comments over the years all of a sudden are faux-waving the red, white, and blue. Must be an inside joke to them. For the dual-cult Musk/Trumpists it absolutely is since they want to overthrow the government and run up the orange face lion flag as well as dismantle NASA and hand it all over to rocket jesus.
It is freakishly Orwellian to read of SHLV’s being “irrelevant” to space “development.”
The neoliberal brainwashing and cult worship required is mind-boggling.
maybe maybe not. it all depends on if SpaceX starship can come close to the promises made for it. if it flounders SLS will be the backbone of human explration of space for sometime. we wont know the answer for a decade plus
We will get some of that answer, God willing, tomorrow.
Unlike the amazing exploding shiny, the SLS is highly unlikely to fail.
Ever. Ask ULA about that, not spacex.
And if it does have a problem, it has the most powerful escape system ever built.
Because NASA, at least this time, did what is required to safeguard the crew.
Even if Starship is successful, SLS will still be the tent-pole of human spaceflight to the moon for years to come.
That is a ridiculous assertion. SLS is too expensive to usefully serve.
congress doesnt want aa robust lunar program
Of course not because having dead astronauts look bad and creates problems. Far less risky to just send them to a safe destination like the ISS.
exactly why send strows when you can send robots at 1/10 the price and get 4 or 5 times the work out of them
Why? Because the whole point is expanding humankind into space. 1/10th the price gets zero.
thats your point. few americans see that
Few Americans worry about anything except sports and what’s for dinner.
That is why we have a representative democracy. The problem is our representatives are almost wholly corrupted by neoliberalism and are doing what a tiny majority want them to do, which is make them more obscenely rich. That was really the message in that movie, “Don’t look up”, that greed and lies will destroy our species.
That’s okay. Congress will, in fairly short order, not be paying for much of it anyway. So its opinion will be of little consequence.
That said, I expect there will be at least as many in Congress who will want a robust lunar program as who merely want a robust slice of pork.
SLS wasn’t congressionally mandated to serve exploration missions. It was mandated to spend money in the right districts. The desire to spend money in those districts won’t be changed based on the vehicle’s flight rate. It’s launching years late, and that hasn’t negatively impacted its funding or mandate one bit.
The SLS is just a simple rebranding and upgrade of Mike Griffin’s Ares V from Project Constellation, itself based on Robert Zubrin’s proposed Ares launch vehicle in his book “Mars Direct”. The idea was that by using the Shuttle technology it would be quick and cheap to build, but they forgot that nothing is cheap and quick when Legacy Space is feeding off of cost plus contracts from NASA.
Up to now, nothing has been flying, so there’s no high public profile. Once SLS and Starship are both flying – with the latter vastly outpacing the former – the politics will change to reflect what the public will be able to plainly see.
My money is on any change in the politics being acceptance of Starship and a demand that SLS continue for the sake of resundancy.
There may be few particularly obdurate Congresscritters who would try to sell that line of hooey. Heck, back in 2015 there were a few who still wanted to cancel Commercial Crew and have SLS-Orion do the ISS space taxi job. The mind fairly boggles.
But the bottom line is that SLS is not now, and never will be, any sort of realistic “back-up” for Starship any more than an LHA can “back-up” a CVN.
For the indeterminate future, Starship will be the back-up to Starship. At some point, perhaps Terran-R or New Glenn can be at least low-wattage back-ups to Starship, but neither is likely to be very close to sharing Starship’s economics.
its the politics of it
Politics pursued in open defiance of good sense has a way of suffering brittle fracture. That will be true of current Democratic politics later this year and of SLS-Orion by mid-decade if not before.
Well, if by tentpole you mean perhaps as few as 12 NASA/ESA/JAXA astronauts sent to cislunar space between now and 2030. That’s how slow the SLS schedule is.
That number of people might be equalled by the single Dear Moon lunar tourist flight!
Yes, I should have been more specific and written “tent-pole of NASA human spaceflight to the moon.”
If/when Starship is crew rated I expect it to enable more missions for NASA due to lower cost, but I also don’t expect that to happen soon or be the end of SLS. Its supporters on the hill will then mandate it be kept because redundancy that they previously didn’t care about will suddenly be of prime importance to them.
Speaking of Starship crew rating… KSC employees have been given a little 4″x4″ 15 page pocket guide called “Artemis I Executive Talking Points.” Most of it is factoids about SLS, Orion and Artemis. The last few pages are responses to more critical questions, one of which is how SLS compares to Starship.
The answer, among other issues, called out that SLS is crew rated. Rather than saying Starship is not crew rated, or that lack of a solid rocket motor tower style abort system will make crew rating it difficult or impossible, it said “For Starship to perform its missions, it will be certified to carry astronauts.” I was surprised by seeing that as a difinitive statement from NASA rather than speculative like “it will need to be certified” or “it will need to pass NASA certification.”
I think the SLS program will probably zombie-walk forward for 8 more years, after a total of 8 SLS rockets are constructed, but leaving 2 or more SLS unlaunched. That’s still a taxpayer sacrifice of 24 billion dollars more to the great gods of pork barrel spending.
What a waste.
$L$ delenda est
I think you underestimate the likely ramp-up in purely SpaceX Moon missions and overestimate the continuing political viability of SLS-Orion.
I hope you’re correct.
But by all rights, the SLS should already be in the process of cancellation. Yet here we are.
What politician is making any noises about cancelling SLS? Who is leading that charge? Grand Moff Nelson isn’t about to cooperate with aborting his pet rocket.
Even after the cancellation of Space Shuttle was made official in 2004, the last flight of Space Shuttle was 7 years later! How long will SLS linger, even after it is cancelled too?
$L$ delenda est
As nothing has flown yet, it’s still possible to play “pretend” games of various sorts. SLS is ridiculous, but has virtually no public awareness profile. Absent a political downside that exceeds its political upside, SLS will soldier on in obscurity. Once it launches, though, it starts to attract public attention, however briefly. When it doesn’t launch again for 2+ years – and Starship does, and repeatedly, even if not always initially successfully – questions will begin to be asked by the general public. The answers aren’t going to be pleasant and the unpleasantness will be new to the general public, unlike we space nerds who’ve seen this trainwreck coming a long way off.
Awareness isn’t the problem.
The general public will never care enough about SLS to make a difference. They have bigger things and things closer to home to worry about than arcane NASA policy.
The politicians and the Press are already aware of the problems with SLS. 60 Minutes even went so far as to call out the SLS as the “Senate Launch System”! But still SLS keeps stumbling forward.
Until some specific politician, or some Press outlet, decides to blow up the SLS problems into a partisan scandal, then SLS will keep zombie-walking forward. Look how long the Space Shuttle persisted, even after it was obvious to all that it didn’t work as advertised. Shuttle didn’t get cancelled until the second time it killed a whole crew. And even then it lasted 8 more years!
At best, maybe a new NASA Administrator of a new President, will advise that moving away from SLS is the only way to stop the hemorrhaging of Project Artemis. That’s the easy part. Then comes convincing Congress to change course. The earliest date for that low probability rescue is late 2025!
I’m fairly confident at this point that 8 SLS will be built, and the program will keep going for at least 5 more years. So, a minimum of $15 billion more flushed down the toilet.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s SLS launch is another scrub.
$L$ delenda est
Interesting. It would seem that options are being kept open. Perhaps that is a result of all the somewhat stunned-looking NASA tour groups passing through Starbase recently. All the construction at LC-39A and Roberts Road at KSC is likely a contributory factor as well. Next year, when giant rocket stages are zipping around the place every few days it’ll be even harder for NASA old-timers to ignore that something big is going on. Stuff going on three or four states away can be ignored a lot more easily than can the same thing going on right in front of oneself.
Starship will be the “tent pole” of the lunar “Big Top.” SLS will never be more than the tent pole of the sideshow.
Success or failure of Starship is not relevant to the effectiveness of SLS. SLS has too many political constraints in addition to an unsustainable cost to be the backbone of anything except a jobs program. I’ve mentioned my concerns about Starship before.
An exploration program based on existing affordable transportation can get far more done. Emphasis on affordable. Delta4 and Atlas5 could have been sending missions to many addresses even before the Shuttle ended its’ career. Antares, and the SpaceX offerings could have been sending from the 2011 timeframe. In the near future, Vulcan, New Glen and others should be joining the fleets. Not to mention all the smaller start ups.
This doesn’t include Starship as it is such an unknown quantity at this time. It may be a game changer, or it may experience extended development time and money.
A rational exploration program would be checking out many targets per year using vehicles, contract types, organizations, and companies with a track record of getting things done. SLS does not have that track record, and the projected launch cadence cannot establish one.
There are those that suggest throwing massive amounts of money at SLS, Starship, and others. That is not a viable plan absent documented ROI possibilities. That the cosmetics vanity industry is larger than the spaceflight industry is irrelevant as that money is not transferable. Neither is that for defense, alcohol, or political campaign expenditures. The current spending will only increase as value, or perceived value, is increased. .
Same old scream cheap blathering that NewSpace fanboys have flooded these forums with for years. Pathetic. No ROI for HSF.
There is no cheap.
I agree with what you wrote enormously But the issue is that there has never been a political undpinning for a lunar program of human exploration or any real underpinning for human exploration of space at all (since Apollo11)
the political underpinning of human space flight is spending federal dollars in poor mostly red districts to keep the standard of living high and preserve the space industrial complex that does that
Nothing else matters. and this is why your (and my ) “rational program” simply cannot get started.
I agree a program of lunar exploration (or near earth exploration or whatever) could probably be started for under 1 or 2 billion total a year…and probably the cost to do that would be maybe .5 billion a person
but it would not keep the political motivation going. and the money would probably not be there.
there is no economic reason to do it RGO
There will not be an economic reason to go if people don’t look for them and develop them. Tourism, communications, and observation are in existence now and growing at various rates. As small vehicles gain capabilities more places will be checked out. Lunar and NEO targets are now within the budgets of companies and universities. The cuber with sail being an example. Not California gold, but Virginia tobacco type ventures will eventually arise.
As long as political will determines missions, they will be funded or not by political ROI.
Only the state can fund humans expanding in space as an insurance policy for humankind. The survival imperative. You just don’t get it. You think it is all about ROI. Money is your God. “Entrepreneurs” with hobby rockets are not going to save the world by getting rich. Like the dinosaurs going extinct because they were stupid, humankind may go extinct because of greed. And we will with creatures like you babbling your market B.S.
I hope you are right but recent events and American history tell me you are not 🙂
The history of frontiers is that they do not happen unless the sovereign has some interest in developing them. For a variety of reasons but not the least of which is that the government has money, political power, and can encourage the push of private enterprise. Alaska is both our most frontier state and is a good example on it. it is very small in terms of population, needs a lot of technology to survive (but at a small level compared to space) and if there were not energy, some gold (at least in the early stages) and national defense, the number of people there would probably barely fill Texas Stadium.
this is the situation for “undersea life” …survival there requires technology on the level of space…and yet its 100 times easier to live there than in space and it has zero perm population and what is there on a temp basis is national defense
the problem in space is that no one NO ONE can find a reason for humans there which either makes money or serves the national interest…other than the pork of human spaceflight
if the US government said “we are going to spend 300 billion on solar power stations” and there was political support for that…this might change. without that investment there is no historical precedent for this none
Although many folks believe that the Revolution was a result of excessive taxation, that was really only an issue in New England. In the rest of the colonies it was because the British government basically outlawed settlers moving west to keep peace with the French and native Americans. Similarly, North American colonies all started as private ventures with British government being mostly neutral in terms of support beyond granting a charter for settlement. And the American government had no interest in the settlement of Texas because it wanted peace with Mexico, which was why it took a decade for Texas to become a state.
And the British did that for a political reason (ie they could not protect western expansion and did not want to…there was no economic reason 🙂 ) and that is why they settled the eastern coast anyway…there was first trees then other things…no such thing exist in human spaceflight
Uninterrupted carbon free Space Solar Energy is a thing. I think so anyway.
The problem is getting everyone else to think so and getting them to vote for it.
Remember, you need to differentiate between the British government and the private ventures that drove the English colonization of North America. Many in England opposed the colonization for years because it would create further unnecessary conflict with Spain.
Also I find how you use Alaska as an example of the lack of support when it received more support than development of the American West, with a government owned railroad and government fund agricultural colonies. But the big issue of land ownership wasn’t resolved until the 1970’s, over a hundred years after it was purchased, put most of its land area off limits to private development and is what blocked its development.
there were a plethora of reasons politically and economically to the government pushing development both the west and Alaska.. ironically those exist in space to but machines do them there seems to be none for humans. hence its unclear if its devlopment will occur.
The settlement of the U.S. was not a top-down but a bottom-up proposition. The “sovereign” didn’t gin up any major program of settlement, it simply put a very basic and inexpensively administered framework in place – e.g., the Homestead Act – and then pretty much stood back and let nature take its course.
The model by which the Moon gets settled and developed, to whatever extent it does, will be determined by people who fundamentally disagree with you as to the economics of doing so.
The point is that as soon as even one economically significant reason to settle the Moon is established, the private sector bumps government out of the driver’s seat. Virginia tobacco isn’t a good analogy as I don’t see export of anything to Earth being more than an incidental aspect of a future lunar economy. And I don’t think smoking regolith is habit-forming. 🙂
You know someone is going to try though.:-)
The tobacco was referring to a product that couldn’t have been foreseen before actually going. The first significant reason could well be one none of us are currently aware of.
Given its inherently finely-divided nature, I think snorting would probably be the regolith ingestion method of choice. Come to that, snorting snuff was popular before smoking tobacco was. I knew at least three guys back in college who would snort anything if it could be coaxed into lines on a mirror.
I figured the serendipity of tobacco might have been what you were getting at. Perhaps there will be something physically exportable like that found on the Moon, but Moon Rock souvenirs are about all I can reasonably see. That isn’t a market that’s going to compare to tobacco from Virginia back in the day.
As was true of North America even in its earliest days, the total of economic activity consumed locally will considerably exceed that of whatever proves exportable. Or at least exportable all the way back to Earth. The Moon could export hugely to endeavors based close by in cis-lunar space.
NASA could have bought just as much political favor from spending money on lunar mission payloads as it did by spending money on the SLS rocket.
The tragedy is, NASA now has a Moon rocket but is struggling to buy the payloads for that rocket. So what’s the point? SLS is a rocket to nowhere, and a continuing waste of billions of taxpayer dollars, with no end in sight.
$L$ delenda est
the political underpinning of human space flight is spending federal dollars in poor mostly red districts to keep the standard of living high and preserve the space industrial complex that does that
As if the economic world of 2022 is the same as 1965? Do you realize how inaccurate your “poor red districts” rhetoric is? Even in 1965 that was baloney, because those were yellow-Dog Democratic Party districts.
I’ll bet you the congressional districts that today are the beneficiary of NASA spending, whether aerospace manufacturing, NASA branch centers, or Academic institutions heavily involved with NASA, all are lean heavy Democratic Party registration and voting.
When Huntsville started feeding off of Washington in the 1940’s, stealing the V-2 scientists from Texas, it was Democratic, and it has continued to feed off of Washington independently of the party in power. And than there are folks like the late Democratic Senator Byrd of West Virginia who turned the road by the airport in his home town of Beckley into what the locals called Pork Ave from all the government agencies with offices there.
Pork has always been a non-partisan issue in Washington, far more important than mere politics is.
“…spending federal dollars in poor mostly red districts to keep the standard of living high…”
While I agree with much of what you say here, I’m about tired of hearing this one. Texas (Johnson), Florida (Kennedy), Ohio (Glenn), California (Ames), Maryland (Goddard), and NASA HQ (DC) are not “poor red states”. As for Mississippi, the number of jobs at Michoud are so miniscule as to have little impact on the average standard of living of that state. So the only possible state your theory could be a factor in would be Alabama. I haven’t run the numbers, but I’m pretty confident if I did that all the NASA and NASA contractor jobs would not amount to enough to significantly affect the standard of living there, given the shipyards, defense work, and Airbus factory that are there. Sorry, but you’re wrong on this one.
Texas, Utah, LA, Alabama and FL are red states. they are both well of red states and poor ones…but the entire goal of SLS is to maintain spending in mostly red states.
I agree these jobs could go away and other jobs could be found but not in say Huntsville. the unifying factor behind SLS is jobs. thats it
Yes, the unifying factor is jobs. I have no argument at all with that statement. My argument is with you claiming (repeatedly) that without NASA dollars, those states would have zero good jobs. That’s just not true. Surely you know that that is not true of Texas. You added Utah to the list. I was recently there. I doubt they would miss the NASA contracts for boosters much. Most of the solids business is military, not NASA. You should also know this. Do you honestly think that if all NASA spending left from Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Texas and Utah that those states would somehow cease to have any good jobs? Given the amounts involved, that boggles the mind.
So what is your real reason for continuing to claim that SLS is a jobs program for “poor red states” when you know (especially in the case of your home state, Texas) that the effect on the economies of those states is fairly insignificant compared to their over all economies? In states that are not “red”, NASA spends:
CA: 4.595 b
MD: 1.769 b
CO: 1.210 b
VA: 1.124 b
WA: 0.325 b
Total: 9.023 b
In red states, they spend:
AL: 2.016 b
TX: 1.404 b
FL: 1.327 b
MS: 0.307 b
AZ: 0.287 b
Total: 5.341 b
Based on these numbers, it sure looks to me like the NASA budget is a jobs program for rich blue states, not poor red ones. Nearly *twice* the NASA budget is spent in blue states. And as others have pointed out, when all this started in the 60’s, many of your “poor red states” were blue states.
Finally, in the case of Alabama, the amount NASA spends is 1% of the state’s gross state product. 1%. Contractors probably add perhaps 2-3% more. Yet you would have us believe it’s the only game in town if you want a decent job.
Your characterization is not only tiresome, it’s false.
the point (and I admit I am enjoying overblowing it ) is that the space infrastructure would leave. the folks in Utah make money from military solid programs but nothing like they do with the solids
So your assertion is that Utah stands to make more money on 1 SLS flight every 2 years than they stand to make on Minuteman and any SLBM replacements? Please.
yes because its more than that…they are already wrapped up in a contract to modernize the SRB’s. thats the big money thing
What’s the value of that contract?
If you are referring to the $3.19b contract to produce boosters for 9 SLS flights awarded to NorGrum, that’s 3.19b / 18 years at projected flight rates. Or about $177m/year.
I don’t think that’s gonna up the job rate in Utah….
its going to maintain the jobs that are there… there is a contract to modernize the SRB’s
Those jobs would be there regardless. That skill set is needed to design and build the MinuteMan replacements. Along with any other military solids built there. SLS is not the pacing product at NorGrum/ATK.
I suspect not. they certainly would not be there in Houston or Alabama
The point is that Utah has a lot more going on than NorGrum’s SLS SRB plant.
They’re red states now, but they weren’t when the space infrastructure was first built there in the 1960s. TX, UT and FL aren’t poor. UT, in particular, had, in 2019, a higher median household income than OR, IL, MN and NY. It was as well-off as WA. Given that TX and FL have been growth magnets of late and were very much not part of the Blue State Covid Reich, their relative fortunes have probably improved over the last three years.
The real coffin nail for SLS, was the successful test flight of Falcon Heavy in February 2018.
SpaceX sells a Falcon Heavy launch for somewhere between 100 and 300 million dollars, each. Presumably SpaceX earns a decent profit margin from that pricing. That’s anywhere from 10 to 30 times cheaper than what NASA pays for each SLS launch.
Estimates for the true payload capacity of Falcon Heavy are all over the map. But even the most pessimistic estimates grant a fully expended Falcon Heavy launch a Trans-Lunar-Injection payload of 15 metric tons. That’s at least 56% of the claimed TLI payload of the Block 1 SLS.
$L$ delenda est
SpaceX is the star of the show now, I’m attempting to be somewhat inclusive of the other possibilities. By the numbers you post here, it seems that two FH launches with refilling could put 112% of an SLS payload on TLI. But that would have required rational mission design.
I’m also attempting to keep the timelines clear in my head. When the whole Ares/SLS fiasco started, SpaceX was not a player at all. Even during the switch/name change from Ares to SLS, F9 was an embryo vehicle and FH was several years in the future.
The base problem being that this was a program with no flexibility. Flexibility would have allowed use of new capabilities as they came available. Going forward, I would suggest that Vulcan, New Glenn, and Starship should be utilized if/as they enter the field. Delta and Atlas on the way out. Antares I don’t know. F9 has orbited tonnage equivalent to about 9x an SLS this year alone. Flexibility in previous planning would have been able to use some of that capability for serious exploration.
Falcon 9/Dragon had the first successful test flight to the Space Station in December 2010.
The Obama/Congressional deal which authorized the SLS was signed into law by President Obama in October 2010.
Those who championed SLS back then, like U.S. Senator from Florida Bill Nelson, might have had a plausible case for SLS back then. I can’t blame anyone back then who supported SLS, even though I think they were mistaken.
However, that case of support had entirely evaporated by the February 2018 launch of Falcon Heavy. At that moment in 2018, SLS was still years away from first flight, and everyone at that time knew that.
As of 2018, the only plausible mission that SLS had in the near future was as a launch vehicle for the Orion manned spacecraft to cislunar space. As early as April 2019, the NASA administrator publicly admitted that a single launch of the Falcon Heavy, if supplemented with an ICPS as a third-stage, would suffice for launching the Orion spacecraft.
IOW, a slightly modified Falcon Heavy could directly substitute for the SLS. No complex multi-launch required, no LEO rendezvous ops, no orbital propellant depots nor other complexities. Just a bog standard single launch of a three stage rocket.
$L$ delenda est
Actually current prices for the FH are $97 million if reused and $150 million expended. Being able to fly the boosters as F9s and to use old F9s as FH boosters gives it a lot of flexibility.
“$97 if reused and $150 expended…”
I don’t think Crazy Elon’s Used Rocket Barn has gotten the prices quite that low. I think it’s more like $97,000,000 and $150,000,000.
I corrected it. Thanks for catching it.
The star of your show. Which is not space, it is a tainted libertarian ideology.
Space is incidental to your cult.
Yeah, we will know. And it won’t take any decade either.
go go go USA USA 🙂
“If the Artemis I mission is successful, NASA plans to fly crew around the moon on the next flight in about two years. That would be followed by a landing of two astronauts at the lunar south pole aboard the Human Landing System during the Artemis III mission as early as 2025.”
The 14 story office building is never going to land on the Moon. The number of shiny refuels needed alone make it a farce. Gateway is the project that will see humans Beyond Earth Orbit for short periods.
Robot Lunar Rovers will find the ice and work out the best way to exploit it. Either a lava tube will be found, a method to cover over a small crater and doze regolith on top, or Robot Landers shuttling water shielding up to a Space Station, will enable landing and/or long duration human missions. In my view those are the three options. I would say the Lunar Space Station first.
That might take a decade.
While the Trump Force gets funding close to NASA’s entire budget next year to weaponize Earth orbit with megaconstellations in a new cold war money scam, the spacex fanboys wail and gnash their teeth over SLS. While the Navy gets their new missile submarine and the Air Force gets their new stealth bomber, and the Army is offering a 20,000 dollar enlistment bonus to privates because they can’t find enough people who can pass the drug and physical fitness tests.
But somehow the SLS has to make “economic sense” and be “sustainable” and provide a “ROI.”
Even Robert Oler, trained in critical thinking I assume, has been conditioned by a decade of NewSpace propaganda to “go cheap.” The damage done to the public perception of space by NewSpace fanboys, who are not really about space, but about an ideology, is profound.
There is no cheap. The way to keep corporations from making too much profit off cost-plus is the same way they did after the Apollo 1 fire, with draconian oversight. The way to lower the cost of the SLS per flight is to fly it more. The scam by the NewSpace Mob has been in progress for a decade. To make space “pay for itself”, which had already killed two shuttle crews. For-profit is the opposite of what Human Space Flight does. It does not generate revenue or sell anything. The small rockets used to launch satellites are useless for Beyond Earth Orbit Human Space Flight.
The death-to-SLS comments, literally libraries of them, and the NASA-bashing, is about a cult of personality and a pernicious right-wing libertarian ideology.
Why NewSpace is the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration.
Even Robert Oler, trained in critical thinking I assume, has been conditioned by a decade of NewSpace propaganda to “go cheap.”
OK but I dont agree that is my argument
My argument is that we should “go commercial” with rigorous oversight over both cost and safety and that in the end the product will be cheaper than congress mandating the productionof a design that uses technology 50 plus years old>
SLS is a design with no redeeming virtues other than it keeps people employed in poor red states
NewSpace is mostly about spacex, as most people can clearly see. I know you see that. Rocket jesus built a small rocket to start with, essentially a redux of the 1961 rocket NASA called “clusters last stand” because they knew it had too many engines, which violated a fundamental design principle. Musk’s manic groupies screamed bloody murder at any hint of the hobby rocket being deficient in any way. I remember it well. Even ten years ago they were shouting the miracle of Musk from the mountaintop and calling for the dismantling of NASA so it could all be handed over to the magic entrepreneur. Elon called Mars the second home of humankind…when it is not suitable for colonization. And there is the divide between the true prophet of space colonization, Gerard K. O’Neill, and the false prophet Elon Musk.
The far-right libertarian whackjobs that have taken up the torch for this billionaire grifter have influenced the public perception of space much like Trumpists have now driven democracy to the edge of the cliff. It is crazy. It is ALL 50 year old technology. That we never built any engines in the same class as the F1 after Saturn is clear proof that Human Space Flight has been at a near standstill for that long. If Human Space Flight and space colonization had been a national goal then we would have engines an order of magnitude more powerful than the F1 and would have been landing them back by the early 90’s.
So, I don’t understand how you can say the SLS has “no redeeming virtues.” It will get us out there and nothing else will. And it has an excellent escape system. And that is more than we have had since 1972. “Commercial” rockets are sized to make money with satellites, not send human-crewed spacecraft to the Moon. It is a case of go big or stay home and the SLS is the only big thing going. What is it you want Robert?
So, I don’t understand how you can say the SLS has “no redeeming virtues.” It will get us out there and nothing else will. And it has an excellent escape system. And that is more than we have had since 1972. “Commercial” rockets are built to make money with satellites, not send human-crewed spacecraft to the Moon. What is it you want Robert?”
an affordable launch vehicle that the ability to carry the US into the future
At every step in the SLS design when the decision was a technology from the past or one from the future they chose the former. the engines are obsolete and costly, the solids are obsolete and costly …there is no NO ability to reduce cost or economically improve production. yet it took us 20 years and lots of cash to get here because “we had to use the shuttle”
that is not the fault of the folks who did the work and was the choice of the congress…but that changes nothing. there is no chance that this thing gets either less expensive or carries us into a future.
its a dead end
There was nothing else to work with for the money. They had to go cheap. Like the shuttle, it ends up being expensive because they cannot get the money to develop what will not be over the long run.
If they could get the money they actually could make this thing “less expensive.” Replace the boosters with liquids (maybe New Glenn first stages) and recover the engines in a pod (studied long ago).
I disagree it is a dead end. Make it better or go with a clean sheet design, either way, as you often say, it will cost a lot of money. The only place that money is going to come from is the DOD. I was in the military my whole life in one way or another, and I believe we can build cold war toys and teach our young people to clear buildings with automatic weapons, or teach them how to build Spaceships…and go. Get people to understand, to vote for it, and make it happen. But NewSpace ideology is the big obstacle.
it could have been done cheaper with new technology
New as in…now? And how many years would that take? What “new technology”? Those raptors and Be-4’s are not that magnificent. And the friction stir welding used on the core tankage is pretty state of the art.
What new technology Robert? Those SRB’s and RS-25’s will be dependable but what else would be? And you think it would be cheaper? They have made a lot of improvements to the SRB’s and RS-25’s to make them “cheaper.” And that is all I have heard from the spacex crowd for ten years:
Cheap, CHEAP, CHEAP!
the BE 4 is going to do fine…what is done is done but it was done badly
For Human Space Flight Beyond Earth Orbit engines in the F1 class, preferably hydrogen, are needed. 2 million pounds of thrust is a good benchmark. That is four times the thrust of the BE 4.
Nothing like that available right now. Really big full flow hydrogen or rotating detonation engines….all that stuff would be extremely expensive and a decade or more away. DOD money is the only way, except they do not care about HSF-BEO. It is hard money.
Exactly, the FH could do all of the lifting for a fraction of the cost of the SLS. The SLS costs $21,000 lb to LEO, the FH only $770 lb to LEO if reused.
yes/no who knows. The FH does not cost 770 lb. those are fantasy numbers. the problem with FH is three fold. one it has no political support from Congress, two its can lift 70 percent or so but its not as wide in terms of payload and would require on orbit assembly (now we should be good at that 🙂 ) and threeit doesnt funnel money to poor red states
there is no reason for humans in space other than the latter 🙂
FH is not human-rated. The reason for humans in space is very obvious. If something bad happens on Earth we could go extinct.
it really is more or less
Human-rated or really the reason? If human-rated it is simply not big enough to send the big pieces necessary to establish a permanent human presence. It is the obsolete technology you were talking about. That 180 billion dollar collection of tin cans flying a couple hundred miles up they are pouring 4 billion a year into is proof of that.
we could do it by assembling things in orbit, using blow up modules etc.
There is something to be said for using a large fairing to place bigger modules into orbit, but ultimately the cost of transport is tops.
Well, the difference is that I understand that humans require a Near Sea Level Radiation One Gravity environment to thrive. Not visit. To live there. But the price tag exposes who wants to exploit space and make a buck and who wants an insurance policy for our species. Those who worship mammon, and those who worship a God of the living, not the dead.
Orbital assembly and refueling is incredibly inefficient and this can be seen by looking at a single example- the Saturn V. If von Braun had been given a couple million more dollars to make Skylab a true wet workshop instead of a dry one, that first space station would have had more interior space than the ISS. It went up on one rocket. We landed on the Moon with one rocket and a dozen orbital refuels were not required. See how that works?
No, it is what the customers are paying when they launch their comsats on it according to an CNBC article on launch prices, $97 million per flight. Incidentally that was raised from $90 million a launch because of inflation. Actually the SLS numbers are the real fantasy since as the shuttle showed no one knows exactly what the cost is of a NASA launch.
lol Its actually not hard to find hte cost of a NASA launch. all in all its high 🙂
The $140-million-apiece new RS-25s are slated to be produced at a factory in “poor, red” CA.
good to see some pork to blue states. I am of course oppossed to SLS
Finally time to see the launch of a real rocket that can be used for BEO human spaceflight. Unlike that overgrown monstrosity in Boca Chica that cannot even light it’s engines properly without some type of mishap. After all that crap thrown at SLS over the year by New-space fanboys time to show them what a LV is capable of.
I still suspect you are not on my side. It is possible you are one of my cyberstalkers having fun. Very possible.
Another failure at impersonating Gary.
Scrubbed for today because of a vehicle issue, hopefully better luck on Friday’s attempt.
Problems with #3 engine chill-down process, I believe.
Who would have guessed! No launch today. Second try on Friday. 😉
Two more tries and it goes back to the VAB is my understanding.
Indeed. I think they get 3 chances a month due to the earth-moon alignment.
The dunce-capped cyberstalker is at it again I see. He has the imagination of a brick and viciously mocks and harasses anybody exposing his dullness. Classic sociopath.