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posted by chromas on Tuesday April 02 2019, @06:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the bang...zoom...straight...to-the-moon dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

NASA chief says a Falcon Heavy rocket could fly humans to the Moon

[...] Until now, it was thought that only NASA's Space Launch System could directly inject the Orion spacecraft into a lunar orbit, which made it the preferred option for getting astronauts to the Moon for any potential landing by 2024. However, [NASA Administrator Jim] Bridenstine said there was another option: a Falcon Heavy rocket with an Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage built by United Launch Alliance.

[...] This plan has the ability to put humans on the Moon by 2024, Bridenstine said. He then emphasized—twice—that NASA's chief of human spaceflight, William Gerstenmaier, has yet to bless this approach due to a number of technical details. His reservations include the challenge of integrating the Falcon Heavy rocket in a horizontal position and then loading Orion with fuel in a vertical configuration on the launchpad. The Falcon Heavy would also require a larger payload fairing than it normally flies with. This would place uncertain stress on the rocket's side-mounted boosters.

"It would require time [and] cost, and there is risk involved," Bridenstine said. "But guess what—if we're going to land boots on the Moon in 2024, we have time, and we have the ability to accept some risk and make some modifications. All of that is on the table. There is nothing sacred here that is off the table. And that is a potential capability that could help us land boots on the Moon in 2024."


Original Submission

Related Stories

Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work 42 comments

Here's why NASA's audacious return to the Moon just might work

Speaking in front of a high-fidelity model of the Apollo program's Lunar Module spacecraft, Vice President Mike Pence charged NASA with accelerating its Moon plans last week. Instead of 2028, Pence wanted boots on the ground four years earlier, before the end of 2024. This marked the rarest of all moments in spaceflight—a schedule moving left instead of to the right.

Understandably, the aerospace community greeted the announcement with a healthy dose of skepticism. Many rocket builders, spaceship designers, flight controllers, and space buffs have seen this movie before. Both in 1989 and 2004, Republican administrations have announced ambitious Moon-then-Mars deep space plans only to see them die for lack of funding and White House backing.

And yet, this new proposal holds some promise. Pence, as well as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, have adopted a clear goal for the agency and promised enduring political support. Moreover, they have said the "end" matters more than the "means." This suggests that whatever rockets and spacecraft NASA uses to reach the Moon, the plan should be based on the best-available, most cost-effective technology. In short, they want to foster a healthy, open competition in the US aerospace industry to help NASA and America reach its goals.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy Block 5 Launch - Postponed: 6:35pm EDT Thursday (2019-04-12 22:35 UTC) [UPDATE2] 28 comments

[Update #2] (2019-04-10 7:30pm EDT (23:30 UTC))

This launch has been scrubbed until tomorrow. :

"Standing down from today’s Falcon Heavy launch attempt; next opportunity is tomorrow, April 11."

New launch window is: "Thursday, April 11 at 6:35 p.m. EDT, or 22:35 UTC, and closes at 8:31 p.m. EDT, or 00:31 UTC on Friday, April 12"

[Update #1] (2019-04-10 8:40pm EDT (22:40 UTC)):

It appears the launch has been delayed 85 minutes from 6:35pm EDT (22:35 UTC) until 8:00pm EDT (00:00 UTC on 2019-04-11); see the tweet:

Falcon Heavy and Arabsat-6A are vertical on Launch Complex 39A. Currently targeting liftoff at 8:00 p.m. EDT; monitoring upper-level winds that could push us to the end of the window (8:32 p.m. EDT)

Also noted on SpaceX's webcast page:

SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, April 10 for a Falcon Heavy launch of the Arabsat-6A satellite from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff is targeted for 8:00 p.m. EDT, or 00:00 UTC on April 11, and the launch window closes at 8:32 p.m. EDT, or 00:32 UTC on April 11. A backup launch window opens on Thursday, April 11 at 6:35 p.m. EDT, or 22:35 UTC, and closes at 8:31 p.m. EDT, or 00:31 UTC on Friday, April 12. The satellite will be deployed approximately 34 minutes after liftoff.

Following booster separation, Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 (LZ-1 and LZ-2) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Falcon Heavy’s center core will attempt to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

You can watch a webcast of the launch below, which will start about 20 minutes before liftoff, and find out more about the mission in our press kit (pdf).

Original story follows.

For only the second time ever, and the first time with a commercial payload (Arabsat-6A), SpaceX is planning to launch its Falcon Heavy (FH) rocket today. The launch was rescheduled from April 7th and April 9th. The FH is currently the most powerful rocket in the world. According to Wikipedia, the:

Falcon Heavy is a partially reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX. It is derived from the Falcon 9 vehicle and consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 first stage as a central core with two additional first stages as strap-on boosters. Falcon Heavy has the highest payload capacity of any currently operational launch vehicle, and the fourth-highest capacity of any rocket ever built, trailing the American Saturn V and the Soviet Energia and N1.

SpaceX conducted Falcon Heavy's maiden launch on February 6, 2018, at 3:45 p.m. EST (20:45 UTC). The rocket carried a Tesla Roadster belonging to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, as a dummy payload.

From an article at Teslarati, SpaceX to Livestream Falcon Heavy Block 5 Launch Debut Today:

SpaceX is half a day away from the planned launch debut of Falcon Heavy Block 5, a milestone that will also be the rocket's second launch ever and first mission with a commercial payload.

First and foremost, Falcon Heavy's job is to safely place the Saudi Arabian communications satellite Arabsat 6A into a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) more than 35,000 km (~22,000 mi) above Earth's surface. Despite the satellite weighing no less than 6000 kg (13,200 lb), Falcon Heavy will still have enough latent performance to attempt the recovery of all three of its new Block 5 boosters. With any luck, this will hopefully return SpaceX's East Coast landing zones (LZ-1 and LZ-2) to successful operations after an anomaly in December 2018 caused Falcon 9 B1051 to landing a mile or so offshore.

[...] This time around, Falcon Heavy will be made entirely out of Block 5 hardware, including three new boosters (likely B1052, B1053, and B1055), a Block 5 upper stage with a Merlin Vacuum engine, and a recovery-optimized "Version 2" payload fairing. Altogether, Falcon Heavy likely weighs upwards of 80,000 kg (175,000 lb) empty and more than 1,420 metric tons (3,125,000 lb) when fully fueled. At liftoff, the Falcon Heavy Block 5 rocket's 27 Merlin 1D engines are expected to produce no less than 5.1 million pounds (~2300 mT/23,000 kN) of thrust at full throttle, but that figure could rise as high as 5.6 million pounds (2550 mT/25,500 kN) of thrust depending on how one interprets rather vague official numbers from CEO Elon Musk.

Artemis: NASA to Receive $1.6 Billion for 2024 Manned Moon Landing 47 comments

Trump adds $1.6 billion to NASA budget request to kick start 'Artemis' moon mission

The Trump administration is adding an additional $1.6 billion to NASA's $21 billion 2020 budget request to kick start plans to return American astronauts to the moon in 2024, four years earlier than previously planned, NASA announced Monday. In a surprise announcement, agency Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the revitalized moon program will be named Artemis after the Greek goddess of the moon.

[...] According to a NASA fact sheet, the new budget request includes $1 billion "to enable NASA to being supporting the development of commercial human lunar landing systems three years earlier than previously envisioned. This acquisition strategy will allow NASA to purchase an integrated commercial lunar lander that will transport astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back."

Gateway development will be limited to what is needed to make the station a viable staging base for trips to the surface. That will free up $321 million for other moon spending. An additional $651 million is earmarked for the Space Launch System — SLS — heavy lift rocket and Orion spacecraft. Lunar surface technologies and propulsion systems would receive an additional $132 million with $90 million going to robotic exploration and research near the moon's south pole.

[...] The same day Bridenstine talked of the challenge of landing on the moon, Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos unveiled a lunar lander called Blue Moon that could put 6.5 metric tons on the surface of the moon. He said Blue Moon, carrying an ascent stage, could meet NASA's schedule for landing astronauts on the surface by 2024.

Previously: NASA Chief Says a Falcon Heavy Rocket Could Fly Humans to the Moon
Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work
Lockheed Martin Proposes Streamlined Lunar Gateway for 2024 Manned Lunar Landing


Original Submission

New Head of Human Exploration at NASA Committed to Reaching the Moon by 2024 18 comments

After shocking leadership shakeup at NASA, new head of human exploration says moon 2024 is doable:

Less than 24 hours after being named head of human exploration at NASA, former astronaut Ken Bowersox said the agency is trying to speed up decision-making in its quest to reach the moon by 2024.

"The key is we need to fly when we're ready, but if we don't shoot for 2024 we have zero chance," Bowersox said Thursday at the American Astronautical Society's John Glenn Memorial Symposium. "Our attitude is to get as much of this going as we can — to move as fast as we can, as long as we can."

Bowersox' brief remarks in Cleveland follow the shocking announcement Wednesday night that Bill Gerstenmaier — a pillar in NASA's human exploration operations since 2005 — was out as the agency's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

The announcement was made in a Wednesday email to NASA employees from Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars," he wrote. "In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes." He then named Bowersox — a 62-year-old veteran of five space shuttle flights — as Gerstenmaier's replacement.

The decision — which surprised many in the space community — comes as NASA continues a years-long struggle to keep its human exploration plans on track. Projects such as the Space Launch System rocket being built to launch humans to the moon and the commercial crew program, meant to alleviate the country's reliance on Russia for transportation to the International Space Station, are years behind schedule.

See also: To the Moon and beyond

Related: 2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration
NASA Chief Says a Falcon Heavy Rocket Could Fly Humans to the Moon
Here's Why NASA's Audacious Return to the Moon Just Might Work
Lockheed Martin Proposes Streamlined Lunar Gateway for 2024 Manned Lunar Landing
Artemis: NASA to Receive $1.6 Billion for 2024 Manned Moon Landing
NASA Orders First Segment of Lunar Station for 2024 Artemis Moon Mission
Project Artemis: Return to the Moon to Cost Another $20-30 Billion


Original Submission

SpaceX Brings on NASA's Former top Spaceflight Official as it Prepares to Launch First Astronauts 6 comments

SpaceX brings on NASA's former top spaceflight official as it prepares to launch first astronauts:

SpaceX is only a couple of months away from its first attempt at launching astronauts and the company has brought in one of the foremost experts in human spaceflight to help it do so successfully.

William Gerstenmaier, the former leader of NASA's human spaceflight program, has now begun working at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, people familiar with his hiring told CNBC. In his new role Gerstenmaier is reporting to SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann, those people said, as the company prepares to begin launching astronauts.

A SpaceX spokesperson confirmed that Gerstenmaier is a consultant for the company's reliability engineering team.

Previously Gerstenmaier served as the NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations for nearly 14 years. In total he had a four decade career with NASA, working on programs ranging from the Space Shuttle to the International Space Station. Gerstenmaier is widely considered one of the world's top specialists in flying humans in space, frequently testifying before Congress on the subject.

SpaceX has hired a key NASA official to help with human spaceflight:

SpaceX has confirmed that NASA's former chief of human spaceflight, William Gerstenmaier, has joined the company as a consultant as it prepares to launch astronauts for the first time.

[...] He immediately brings credibility to the company's safety culture. Former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale, who now chairs the human spaceflight committee of NASA's Advisory Council, told Ars last summer, "Bill was recognized by everybody as being technically well-grounded and very astute. He was known to listen carefully and to make his judgments based on good technical reasons."

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  • (Score: 2, Funny) by DECbot on Tuesday April 02 2019, @07:05AM (9 children)

    by DECbot (832) on Tuesday April 02 2019, @07:05AM (#823499) Journal

    Strap yourselves in boys, this is Discount Cargo Rocket Lines, where our cargo nearly always gets there. Today's destination: the moon! Don't mind the panels looking like they're about to fall off the rocket. They hardly ever interfere with the launch, and if the landing does gets rocky, don't worry about it. It won't matter if the boosters blow up, 'cause you'll already be on the way to the moon! We'll be getting a firm launch date as soon as we hear back from the construction crews tasked to rebuild the launch tower after last week's prelaunch mishap.

    --
    cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @07:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @07:19AM (#823502)

      Falcon heavy will be NASA's workhouse, NASA has always used the lowest bidder.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday April 02 2019, @05:14PM (6 children)

      by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday April 02 2019, @05:14PM (#823686)

      FH currently has a 100% launch success rate, though only a 66.6% booster recovery rate.
      Both numbers that their competitors would kill for.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday April 02 2019, @10:27PM (5 children)

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday April 02 2019, @10:27PM (#823831) Journal

        When evaluating SpaceX for Moon missions, there's a couple of approaches you could take:

        1. Falcon Heavy is heavily based on the proven Falcon 9, so it is probably safe to use that and relatively straightforward to human rate it.
        2. Falcon Heavy has flown just once (soon to be three times in the next couple of months), so a more exotic rocket could be evaluated, such as Starship or Falcon Super Heavy. Falcon Super Heavy would add two additional F9 cores, potentially allowing for greater payload capability for lunar missions (although sending humans + LOP-G modules on the same rocket is unlikely). BFR would be the best option, but it could require at least another 2 years of work before it starts lifting payloads to LEO, and it would need a bunch of successful missions before NASA would put humans on it.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday April 02 2019, @10:58PM (4 children)

          by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday April 02 2019, @10:58PM (#823843)

          Falcon Super Heavy would look awesome, with a Soyuz-style Korolev cross of four boosters and four simultaneous landings (or two times two if that helps the mission profile).
          But the payload fairing is definitely too small to single-handedly achieve the Moon mission, and stacking much more weight up there might just be structurally impossible, even with better vacuum ISP.

          Did Elon trash that big drum yet ? The answer might have been four (or 6!) F9-as-FH-side-boosters strapped around an empty 9-meter shell, with the human-rated capsule and the moon lander at the top (because not-a-shuttle).
          Sounds crazy, but with enough struts...

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday April 02 2019, @11:43PM (3 children)

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday April 02 2019, @11:43PM (#823859) Journal

            Falcon Super Heavy would look awesome, with a Soyuz-style Korolev cross of four boosters and four simultaneous landings (or two times two if that helps the mission profile).

            That's what I was thinking, though I forgot the words "Korolev cross".

            Feasibility would probably come down to the stresses exerted on the center Falcon Heavy core/booster, and that component has been made significantly stronger [teslarati.com]:

            A step further, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has indicated that one major section of Block 5 upgrades – moving from a welded to a bolted thrust structure (i.e. octaweb) – was expected to be a boon for Falcon Heavy, while also making octawebs far easier to manufacture, assemble, and even disassemble. According to Musk, new bolted octawebs are also “dramatically” stronger, a boon for Falcon Heavy boosters – particularly the center core – that need to survive forces multiple times stronger than those subjected upon Falcon 9 first stages.

            Bonus: Air Force funded research into using Raptor engines for Falcon 9/Heavy upper stage [wikipedia.org]. This could be a path to squeezing a little more performance out of the whole rocket.

            As you say, the payload fairing volume is a limiting factor. Payload fairing concerns should be thoroughly eliminated by Starship, although I still hope we see a 12-meter diameter rocket [wikipedia.org] in the future.

            Did Elon trash that big drum yet ?

            If you're talking about Starhopper, it has been used for several tests already [teslarati.com] and will be used for hover tests, just without the nosecone. It should probably be considered a big, dumb test platform for the Raptor engine. The orbital version of Starship is already under construction and will hopefully fly this year.

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
            • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday April 02 2019, @11:58PM (2 children)

              by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday April 02 2019, @11:58PM (#823864)

              No, that [arstechnica.com].

              Sadly, i think I read it has been destroyed because of the stainless steel change.

              I can't help but wonder what results one would get by making an empty 9m cylinder with this drum, just to link enough F9 cores to throw something really big at the moon (people + lander+ gateway), before return each of the 4/5/6 boosters back to the ground..
              Probably less efficient than Super Heavy, but that launch would redefine the word Awesome.

              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday April 03 2019, @12:34AM (1 child)

                by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday April 03 2019, @12:34AM (#823873) Journal

                Yes, it was destroyed and there are photos:

                https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-all-in-steel-starship-super-heavy/ [teslarati.com]

                Ars comments speculated that there are good reasons to scrap it:

                https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/03/rocket-report-spacex-scraps-costly-tooling-vandenberg-lull-starliner-slip/?comments=1&start=40 [arstechnica.com]

                Accounting, probably. If they felt confident enough that the tooling would never be used again, then they could scrap it and write it off. Since it was so new, it's likely that very little depreciation had already been taken and so they could write off most of it, as opposed to keeping it "for a few years" and then writing it off. They also save the storage cost and protect any proprietary design attribute(s) that may have existed.

                According to GAAP, if you don't actually scrap the tooling, then you really can't write it off. If that's not enough, it's also a way (maybe the best way) of sending up a clear message of confidence in the new direction to both internal and external interests.

                --
                [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
                • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday April 03 2019, @12:48AM

                  by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday April 03 2019, @12:48AM (#823877)

                  Yup, that's the one I had read. :_(

                  Back of the envelope math says you can fit 8 5m F9 around a 9m core (made of carbon fiber and really a lot of struts). 72 engines takeoff... drool...
                  Can we get another billionaire to commission that? Either shatter all launch records, or make a $500M fireball ...
                  It would "just" need a bit of engine control software, and one hell of a launchpad. The rest is ready to send us to the moon/Mars/Saturn by the end of the year. That's how you do quick-turn reuse, NASA !

                  /dreaming

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by khallow on Wednesday April 03 2019, @03:41AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 03 2019, @03:41AM (#823955) Journal

      Strap yourselves in boys, this is Discount Cargo Rocket Lines, where our cargo nearly always gets there.

      The irony of the situational sort is that this is still more reliable than the NASA Space Launch System which has yet to fly anything and probably won't achieve Falcon 9 levels of reliability and safety should they manage to get it going.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bradley13 on Tuesday April 02 2019, @09:57AM (3 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) on Tuesday April 02 2019, @09:57AM (#823535) Homepage Journal

    "it was thought" - gawd, only a bureaucrat could say something like that. Who thought that? Probably no one real...

    What we're seeing is NASA preparing the ground for a major change: They can no longer justify throwing money at a system that may never be finished. Heck, it was never meant to be finished - it's just a pork distribution project. But when commercial companies are passing them in capabilities, in actual working hardware, for a fraction of the cost? There's a point where the embarrassment just gets too great. So the bureaucrats are preparing the ground for the inevitable announcement that SLS will be cancelled.

    It will be interesting to see if the Congresscritters try to rescue their pork. They might, for example, require the military to continue SLS development. The military can claim more secrecy for its programs than NASA ("national security" or some such twaddle), so it might serve to hide the pork for another few years.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @11:42AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @11:42AM (#823558)

      They can no longer justify throwing money at a system that may never be finished.

      Since NASA doesn't run rocket building facilities, I hope you don't blame them for the neverending systems.

      • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Tuesday April 02 2019, @12:25PM

        by bradley13 (3053) on Tuesday April 02 2019, @12:25PM (#823574) Homepage Journal

        "Since NASA doesn't run rocket building facilities, I hope you don't blame them for the neverending systems."

        Blame NASA? Well, not exactly. Congress hands NASA the SLS money, and tells them how to spend it. I used to work in USAF procurement, and I know exactly how this goes down: you want your program to get funding approval, it is understood that subcontracts must be issued in as many Congressional districts as possible. The prime contractor takes care of this, and anyway, they're the ones with the lobbyists in direct contact with Congress. Your role as a procurement bureaucrat is to make sure that all the i's are dotted and all the t's are crossed. On a good day, your project will actually make real progress. That's great and all, but never forget that actual progress is not important to either the prime contractor or to Congress.

        Is that NASA's fault? Not really. It's a fundamental flaw in a system where politicians get to spend other people's money with virtually no constraints. I also don't know what the solution is. The only thing I can suggest is getting the purse strings out of the politicians' hands. Maybe you could let the people who pay taxes should - in proportion to their tax bill - vote on major government spending programs? Dunno, but the current system is clearly broken...

        --
        Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday April 02 2019, @10:11PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday April 02 2019, @10:11PM (#823819) Journal

      Congresscritters are assuredly going to try to rescue the rocket:

      https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/03/nasas-new-budget-raises-questions-about-the-future-of-its-sls-rocket/ [arstechnica.com]

      The US Senate will have much to say about this budget before it is done. In years past, the Senate Appropriations Committee, under the direction of its chairman Richard Shelby, has plussed up the administration budgets for NASA's SLS rocket.

      The Alabama senator reiterated as much last week during a session of the Space Transportation Association. Another speaker was Jody Singer, the director of Alabama's Marshall Space Flight Center, where the SLS rocket is managed.

      "As chairman of the appropriations committee, I have more than a passing interest in what NASA does. And I have a little parochial interest, too, in what they do in Huntsville, Alabama," where Marshall is located, Sen. Shelby said. "Jody, you keep doing what you're doing. We'll keep funding you."

      Shelby and his staffers will no doubt understand the implications of the president's budget and what it would mean for the utility of the SLS rocket. If enacted, these changes could spell the beginning of the end of the SLS rocket, especially if it experiences further delays. This will be one budget battle that is interesting to follow.

      Most of the public doesn't know about the SLS so they are likely to get away with it as things stand. Somebody would have to start a fight over this that makes headline news in order to get attention. Possibly by using the Boeing angle or finding some dirty emails related to SLS.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @12:45PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @12:45PM (#823580)

    This horizontal versus vertical stuff needs to be sorted out.
    There are probably good technical reasons for either, but one must choose.
    Assembly on the pad seems less that optimal.

    Perhaps X could figure out what it takes to deliver a booster vertical in the VAB and then get the whole stack to a pad.

    Me thinks with this many different folks coordinating, some early test launches would be wise to focus everybody on the right page.

    The overall recalibration seems refreshing, but this mix of suppliers, will require NASA to be able to manage integration. (make day to day incremental choices for what to do)
    Will be interesting to see a new generation of NASA folks step up to provide this old school NASA capability.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DannyB on Tuesday April 02 2019, @04:38PM (2 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 02 2019, @04:38PM (#823672) Journal

      SpaceX's horizontal integration eliminates the need for a big expensive VAB. I took a tour in 2017 learned facts . . . and um . . . stuff. Biggest building in the world. The stripes on the flag are as big as the road to the building. Weather happens inside building. I also saw the construction on the SLS pork launching pad and the Orion. In short: tour was, as Londo Mollari says: a thousand monuments to past glory.

      Oh, wait . . . !!! Here's an idea . . .

      What about using SpaceX's Dragon 2 capsule instead of Orion? Or use Boeing's Starliner capsule, which as I understand, CAN mate to a Falcon Heavy.

      Now we get rid of both SLS AND Orion in one go!

      --
      If we tell conservatives that the climate is transitioning, they will work to stop it.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @07:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @07:28PM (#823749)

        "SpaceX's horizontal integration eliminates the need for a big expensive VAB."

        But don''t we already have the VAB with 4 bays sitting mostly idle?

        Did the NASA Chief say this on April 1st?

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Tuesday April 02 2019, @10:16PM

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday April 02 2019, @10:16PM (#823824) Journal

        It may be possible to deliver astronauts to the Moon using Falcon Heavy, but SpaceX would prefer to use BFR (Starship). That's why their recent and upcoming tests are so important.

        In a pinch, Falcon Heavy could probably deliver astronauts and LOP-G payloads to lunar orbit, but lunar surface is much more uncertain. BFR would be the right tool for that job.

        Hopefully we see orbital testing of BFR this year, because it would be excellent to see articles like TFA (and many others that you read about SLS) forced to mention BFR and not just Falcon Heavy.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @01:42PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @01:42PM (#823597)

    Pork comes with a declared purpose.
    A taxpayer may not understand if the purpose is good,
        but he sure can see if the execution is below par for government work.
    (Not exactly a high bar to clear.)

    Eventually, if that goal doesn't happen, some adjustment should be expected.

    Burnt pork seems a concept Sen Shelby's voters could embrace given a suitable substitute is provided.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday April 02 2019, @04:20PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 02 2019, @04:20PM (#823663) Journal

      Whatever the declared porpoise, and whether burnt or not, would the FAA certify the pork as airworthy?

      (from my journal...)

      You cannot have your Pork and eat/fly It too.

      If the SLS flies, it will be so expensive that it will quickly implode the program.

      In order to keep the program, the SLS must perpetually be in a state of delay, which will cancel the program.

      Everyone knows pork does not fly.

      --
      If we tell conservatives that the climate is transitioning, they will work to stop it.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Username on Tuesday April 02 2019, @01:56PM (2 children)

    by Username (4557) on Tuesday April 02 2019, @01:56PM (#823608)

    We used a Saturn V to get to the moon 50 years ago. Whats wrong with using it again? Unless they come up with an electric rocket, seems like wheel reinventing. Geez, this SLS can only match or do a little better than a 50+ year old rocket. On paper. Just imagine a Saturn with newer materials and cnc machining.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @02:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02 2019, @02:28PM (#823622)

      Someone addressed this question in detail
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mhIfeS3OumY [youtube.com]

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday April 02 2019, @04:28PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 02 2019, @04:28PM (#823668) Journal

      Pork is known as the other white meat. Especially in a disasterous advertisement that would not have played well in Northern Iraq / Kurds, but I digress.

      In 1987, Newsweek had an issue, with the cover being Lost In Space. The issue was about how the US Space Program had lost its way. The Shuttle was still grounded. The space program is a huge mess. The issue goes on about various plans to reinvigorate the US Space Program and stop flying in circles around the Earth.

      Someone suggests, how about bring back the Saturn V program? Boeing's answer: we could NEVER do that! That could take ten years! People are gone, some no longer alive. Some of the plans may no longer exist. Etc.

      As Newsweek pointed out: Original Development Time: 3 years.

      (Now that 3 year figure is from my old and not always reliable memory, although I was able to point out my source of recollection quite handily enough for anyone to independently verify.)

      --
      If we tell conservatives that the climate is transitioning, they will work to stop it.
  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday April 02 2019, @04:03PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 02 2019, @04:03PM (#823656) Journal

    From TFA . . .

    His reservations include the challenge of integrating the Falcon Heavy rocket in a horizontal position and then loading Orion with fuel in a vertical configuration on the launchpad.

    I predicted this in a joke in July 2018. [soylentnews.org]

    NASA says:

    Orion, America's spacecraft that will carry humans to deep space

    DannyB says:

    Wait, so they're saying that Orion will fit to a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launcher?

    Or what?

    --
    If we tell conservatives that the climate is transitioning, they will work to stop it.
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