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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday September 12 2020, @09:38AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the from-the-are-we-talking-about-real-money-yet? dept.

Charlie Bolden says the quiet part out loud: SLS rocket will go away:

Charlie Bolden, a four-time astronaut, served as NASA administrator from mid-2009 through early 2017. During that time, he oversaw the creation and initial development of the agency's large Space Launch System rocket.

Although some NASA officials such as then-Deputy Director Lori Garver were wary of the rocket's costs—about $20 billion has now been poured into development of a launch vehicle based on existing technology—Bolden remained a defender of the large rocket, calling it a lynchpin of the agency's plans to send humans beyond low-Earth orbit, perhaps to the Moon or Mars. He also dismissed the efforts of commercial space companies like SpaceX to build comparable technology.

[...] Since that time, a lot has changed. In February, 2018, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time. It has since flown successfully two more times, and it will play a role in NASA's future exploration plans. Meanwhile, the SLS rocket, originally due to launch in 2017, is now delayed until at least the end of 2021.

As a result of this, Bolden appears to have changed his mind. In an interview with Politico published Friday morning in the publication's Space newsletter, Bolden was asked what might happen during the next four years.

"SLS will go away," he said. "It could go away during a Biden administration or a next Trump administration... because at some point commercial entities are going to catch up. They are really going to build a heavy lift launch vehicle sort of like SLS that they will be able to fly for a much cheaper price than NASA can do SLS. That's just the way it works."


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NASA Wants to Buy SLS Rockets at Half Price, Fly Them Into the 2050s 27 comments

NASA wants to buy SLS rockets at half price, fly them into the 2050s

NASA has asked the US aerospace industry how it would go about "maximizing the long-term efficiency and sustainability" of the Space Launch System rocket and its associated ground systems.

[...] In its request NASA says it would like to fly the SLS rocket for "30 years or more" as a national capability. Moreover, the agency wants the rocket to become a "sustainable and affordable system for moving humans and large cargo payloads to cislunar and deep-space destinations."

[...] Among the rocket's chief architects was then-Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who steered billions of dollars to Kennedy Space Center in his home state for upgraded ground systems equipment to support the rocket. Back in 2011, he proudly said the rocket would be delivered on time and on budget.

"This rocket is coming in at the cost of... not only what we estimated in the NASA Authorization act, but less," Nelson said at the time. "The cost of the rocket over a five- to six-year period in the NASA authorization bill was to be no more than $11.5 billion. This costs $10 billion for the rocket." Later, he went further, saying, "If we can't do a rocket for $11.5 billion, we ought to close up shop."

After more than 10 years, and more than $30 billion spent on the rocket and its ground systems, NASA has not closed up shop. Rather, Nelson has ascended to become the space agency's administrator.

Previously:


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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @10:00AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @10:00AM (#1049869)

    And, takyon has an organism. First one ever, I hear tell.

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday September 12 2020, @10:57AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday September 12 2020, @10:57AM (#1049887) Journal

      So you say takyon created the first life?

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday September 12 2020, @11:12AM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Saturday September 12 2020, @11:12AM (#1049890) Journal

      We all know how aristarchus gets his jollies. Or at least, we hope we know the extend of it.

      Actually, this news is entirely useless. It's easy to come out against the Senate Launch System when you've been retired for years and are no longer relevant. They will just ignore him and the rest of the chorus.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @10:34AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @10:34AM (#1049882)

    So it will go away, kind of like the virus?

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by FatPhil on Saturday September 12 2020, @10:45AM (9 children)

    by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Saturday September 12 2020, @10:45AM (#1049883) Homepage
    So we went from "He also dismissed the efforts of commercial space companies like SpaceX to build comparable technology." to "[them doing just that is] just the way it works." without the "I was completely wrong" admission. Better late than never, I guess. Oh, he's not in charge any more, you say? so the realisation of his error doesn't actaully achieve anything?
    --
    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Saturday September 12 2020, @11:16AM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Saturday September 12 2020, @11:16AM (#1049891) Journal

      It's just some fodder for the last chapter of his biography.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by driverless on Saturday September 12 2020, @11:48AM

      by driverless (4770) on Saturday September 12 2020, @11:48AM (#1049893)

      So we went from "He also dismissed the efforts of commercial space companies like SpaceX to build comparable technology." to "[them doing just that is] just the way it works."

      When presented with new information, he changed his position based on it. Pity politicians can't do that.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @01:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @01:01PM (#1049906)

      "That's just the way it works."

      After the audit, he might not be so glib.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @04:16PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @04:16PM (#1049977)

      it's pretty funny. you'd have to be pretty dumb or delusional to not realize the private sector could do it cheaper than nasa.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Grishnakh on Saturday September 12 2020, @05:14PM (2 children)

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Saturday September 12 2020, @05:14PM (#1050014)

        you'd have to be pretty dumb or delusional to not realize the private sector could do it cheaper than nasa.

        Of course, given the completely broken and inept way that US government contracting works, a private corporation could certainly do anything cheaper than the US government, but only when there's a profit motive involved. I could understand how, perhaps 20 or more years ago (before private space companies like SpaceX existed) someone would think that the private sector could not accomplish heavy-lift capability, because back then there was just no reason to try to build rockets like that without a cushy government contract involved. How exactly is your company going to profit from building these rockets and launching them? That's changed these days.

        However, this issue is more complex than "private sector. vs NASA". Who do you think built rockets for NASA before SpaceX existed? It wasn't NASA: they've never been able to build a rocket. That stuff has always been done by contractors like Rocketdyne (i.e., the "private sector"). SpaceX is just a new contractor that's doing a better, cheaper job than the creaky old incumbent contractors like Boeing. It probably helps a lot that they're able to leverage their purely-commercial business like satellite launches, which seems to be something the creaky old government contractors never did, and generally don't. We see this with military contractors: they simply specialize in winning government contracts and building things for the government at inflated prices, and just don't bother with any purely commercial work, and the commercial companies that could potentially compete with them don't bother, because government contracts are a huge hassle.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13 2020, @01:12PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13 2020, @01:12PM (#1050331)

          Thank you for pointing out the "private sector is cheaper" fantasy. Even during WWII, which was the largest mobilization of government driven industrial activity, you had to have LOTS of oversight to minimize war profiteering. And this was during a time when there was a very strong feeling of sacrifice and patriotism that resulted in very bad PR for companies caught. When it comes to things that involve large public funds going to contractors, the idiots who parrot the "the government has no place in . . ." need to get a clue and realize that the government most definitely needs to be involved in overseeing. Doesn't matter if it is rockets or healthcare. Anyone who argues that an industry will regulate itself should be run out of town on a rail.

          • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday September 14 2020, @12:55AM

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday September 14 2020, @12:55AM (#1050568)

            Anyone who argues that an industry will regulate itself should be run out of town on a rail.

            It's too bad we can't make those people personally liable for any overcharges or excesses resulting from poor regulation.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday September 12 2020, @05:40PM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday September 12 2020, @05:40PM (#1050025) Journal
      Holden's statements are in the news. So he has some influence. Definitely more than me.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13 2020, @02:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13 2020, @02:00PM (#1050343)

        Don't sell yourself short!

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @12:17PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @12:17PM (#1049897)

    A linchpin is the most important part of something. A lynchpin is what you hang a black guy from.

    With all the obsession with trying to change language to prevent wrongthink, could we at least fix the places where it's actually wrong?

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @12:39PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @12:39PM (#1049898)

      #AllPinsMatter

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @03:46PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 12 2020, @03:46PM (#1049964)

    eventually.

    It just takes a while for political inertia to adapt to permit the obvious.

    This does put a lot or eggs in one basket/person.
    Hopefully we will see some other private success stories soon.

    Maybe even Boeing can adapt to great at making things again.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13 2020, @01:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13 2020, @01:13PM (#1050332)

      You mean something like an SLS Max?

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