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posted by martyb on Thursday October 28 2021, @09:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the why-buy-one-when-you-can-buy-two-at-twice-the-price? dept.

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:


Original Submission

Related Stories

Artemis Program Requires More Cash to Reach Moon by 2024; SLS Could Cost 1,000x More Than Starship 24 comments

White House warns Congress about Artemis funding

The White House warned Congress in a recent letter that without funding increases for its exploration programs, NASA won't be able to achieve the goal of landing humans on the moon in 2024.

The Oct. 23 letter from Russell Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, addressed overall issues with appropriations bills that Shelby's committee had approved in recent weeks, including the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) bill that funds NASA.

"The Administration appreciates the Committee's continued support for space exploration, reflected in the $22.8 billion provided in the bill for NASA," Vought wrote in the letter, first reported by Ars Technica.

He took issue, though, with the funding provided for exploration research and development, which includes work on lunar landers and the lunar Gateway. "However, the $1.6 billion provided for exploration research and development (R&D) is insufficient to fully fund the lander system that astronauts would use to return to the Moon in 2024," he wrote. "Funding exploration R&D at the $2.3 billion level requested in the FY 2020 Budget is needed to support the Administration's goal of returning to the Moon by 2024."

From the Ars Technica article:

Congress has mandated that NASA use the more costly SLS[*] booster to launch the ambitious Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter in the early 2020s, while the White House prefers the agency to fly on a much-less-expensive commercial rocket. In a section discussing the Clipper mission, Vought's letter includes a cost estimate to build and fly a single SLS rocket in a given year—more than $2 billion—which NASA has not previously specified.

[*] SLS: Space Launch System.

At the U.S. Air Force Space Pitch Day on November 5, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk put a much smaller number on the cost of launching a fully reusable Starship:

"A single Starship will expend about $900,000 worth of fuel and oxygen for pressurization to send "at least 100 tons, probably 150 tons to orbit," Musk said. SpaceX's cost to operate Starship will be around $2 million per flight, which is "much less than even a tiny rocket," he added.


Original Submission

NASA OIG: Tell Congress that Moon Rocket is Over Budget and Behind Schedule 20 comments

NASA OIG: Tell Congress that moon rocket is over budget and behind schedule:

NASA's moon rocket has reached a point in cost overruns and delays that should trigger Congressional review, a report by the NASA Inspector General says.

The NASA Office of Inspector General said the Space Launch System rocket being developed to fly astronauts to the moon exceeded cost and schedule baselines by more than 30 percent at the end of fiscal year 2019. That 30 percent threshold should prompt Congressional attention, the OIG said, though NASA disagreed.

"NASA continues to struggle managing SLS (Space Launch System) Program costs and schedule as the launch date for the first integrated SLS/Orion mission slips further," according to the report released Tuesday. "Rising costs and delays can be attributed to challenges with program management, technical issues, and contractor performance."

<sarcasm>News of SLS being behind schedule and over budget will come as a shock to many. But we should take comfort that no problem is so great it cannot be solved by throwing more taxpayer money at it.</sarcasm>


Original Submission

NASA Spent a Decade and Nearly $1 Billion for a Single Launch Tower 29 comments

NASA spent a decade and nearly $1 billion for a single launch tower:

"NASA exacerbated these issues by accepting unproven and untested designs."

A new report published Tuesday by NASA's inspector general looks into the development of a mobile launch tower for the agency's Space Launch System rocket.

The analysis finds that the total cost of constructing and modifying the structure, known as Mobile Launcher-1, is "at least" $927 million. This includes the original $234 million development cost to build the tower to support the Ares I rocket.

After this rocket was canceled in 2010, NASA then spent an additional $693 million to redesign and modify the structure for the SLS rocket. Notably, NASA's original estimate for modifying the launch tower was just $54 million, according to the report by Inspector General Paul Martin.

<no-sarcasm>
Does NASA understand what a sunk cost is?
</no-sarcasm>

Related: NASA to Launch 247 Petabytes of Data Into AWS - but Forgot About Egress Costs


Original Submission

NASA Will Pay a Staggering $146 Million for Each SLS Rocket Engine 46 comments
NASA will pay a staggering $146 million for each SLS rocket engine:

NASA has previously given more than $1 billion to Aerojet to "restart" production of the space shuttle era engines and a contract for six new ones. So, according to the space agency, NASA has spent $3.5 billion for a total of 24 rocket engines. That comes to $146 million per engine.

The NASA news release says that Aerojet has "implemented a plan to reduce the cost of the engines by as much as 30 percent," noting the use of more advanced manufacturing techniques.

[...] NASA designed these brilliant engines in the 1970s for the space shuttle program, during which they each flew multiple launches. A total of 46 engines were built for the shuttle at an estimated cost of $40 million[*] per engine. But now these formerly reusable engines will be flown a single time on the SLS rocket and then dropped into the ocean.

There are four engines on a Space Launch System rocket. At this price, the engines for an SLS rocket, alone, will cost more than $580 million. This does not include the costs of fabricating the rocket's large core stage, towering solid-rocket boosters, an upper stage, or the costs of test, transportation, storage, and integration. With engine prices like these, it seems reasonable to assume that the cost of a single SLS launch will remain $2 billion into perpetuity.

Charlie Bolden Says the Quiet Part Out Loud: SLS Rocket Will Go Away 18 comments

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."


Original Submission

NASA Lays out $28 Billion Plan to Return Astronauts to the Moon in 2024 13 comments

NASA lays out $28 billion plan to return astronauts to the moon in 2024:

NASA officials released a nearly five-year, $28 billion plan Monday to return astronauts to the surface of the moon before the end of 2024, but the agency's administrator said the "aggressive" timeline set by the Trump administration last year hinges on Congress approving $3.2 billion in the next few months to kick-start development of new human-rated lunar landers.

The plan unveiled Monday contained few new details not previously disclosed by NASA. It assumes crews will launch on NASA's Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, fly to the moon's vicinity on an Orion capsule, then transfer into a commercially-developed lunar lander to ferry the astronauts to and from the lunar surface.

NASA released a new overview document [(pdf)] Monday describing the agency's approach to landing astronauts on the moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. The program, named Artemis, encompasses the SLS, Orion, Human Landing Systems, and the Gateway, a human-tended platform in lunar orbit that will eventually serve as a staging point for missions to the moon.


Original Submission

NASA SLS Megarocket Shortage Causes Tug-of-war Between Moon Missions, Europa Exploration 23 comments

NASA SLS megarocket shortage causes tug-of-war between moon missions, Europa exploration:

NASA is choosing between human missions to the moon and a robotic mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa as the agency manages its limited supply of megarockets in the coming years.

The agency began developing its Space Launch System (SLS) in 2010, intending for the rocket to be the agency's primary vehicle for crewed and deep-space missions. But work has been slow, and NASA and Boeing, which builds the vehicles' two main stages, are only now testing the core stage of the first SLS. It won't fly until late next year, when it makes the first flight of NASA's Artemis lunar-exploration program — an uncrewed trip around the moon known as Artemis 1. The schedule will therefore be tight for the third Artemis launch, which aims to land two astronauts near the moon's south pole in 2024.

Meanwhile, engineers are building the Europa Clipper spacecraft, designed to learn enough about the moon's ice shell, subsurface ocean and geology to help scientists determine whether the hidden ocean may suit the needs of life as we know it. And Congress has mandated the agency also use an SLS rocket to launch Europa Clipper — without consideration for whether one may be available.

SLS: Nasa 'Megarocket' Assembly Begins in Florida 21 comments

SLS: Nasa 'megarocket' assembly begins in Florida:

Nasa has started assembling the first Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on a launch platform ahead of its maiden flight next year.

The SLS is the giant rocket that will send US astronauts back to the Moon this decade - with the first crewed landing targeted for 2024.

Engineers in Florida have begun stacking the segments that make up the vehicle's two solid rocket boosters.

[...] Teams at Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida lowered the first of 10 booster segments into place on a structure known as the mobile launcher on 21 November. The process is taking place inside the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy.

The boosters will burn six tonnes of solid, aluminium-based propellant each second when the SLS launches. They provide 75% of the vehicle's thrust at lift-off.

The mobile launcher they're being stacked on is a 115m (380ft) -tall structure that's used to process and assemble the SLS before moving it to the launch pad.

It's a huge symbolic step, not only for the SLS - which has been under development for a decade - but also Nasa's plan to send the next man and the first woman to the lunar surface by 2024, known as Artemis.


Original Submission

NASA's Europa Clipper has been Liberated from the Space Launch System 6 comments

NASA's Europa Clipper has been liberated from the Space Launch System

Almost unnoticed, tucked into the 2021 fiscal NASA funding section of the recently passed omnibus spending bill, is a provision that would seem to liberate the upcoming Europa Clipper mission from the Space Launch System (SLS).

According to Space News, the mandate that the Europa Clipper mission be launched on an SLS remains in place only if the behind-schedule and overpriced heavy lift rocket is available and if concerns about hardware compatibility between the probe and the launcher are resolved. Otherwise, NASA is free to search for commercial alternatives to get the Europa Clipper to Jupiter's ice-shrouded moon.

[....] The Europa Clipper being mandated to fly on an SLS to begin with was the result of an unseemly side of congressional budget politics. The space probe was championed by former Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), who at the time was the chair of the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA. In order to get support for the Europa Clipper, Culberson added the SLS mandate, which garnered support from Sen. Richard Shelby ( R-Ala.), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Shelby's state contains a number of aerospace contractors involved in developing the SLS.

[....] As Ars Technica points out, launching the Europa Clipper on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy saves the mission $1.5 billion. An advantage of using the SLS has been that it allows for a direct path to Jupiter without the time-consuming planetary flyby maneuvers that previous missions to the outer planets have required. The Falcon Heavy alone would not be able to get the Europa Clipper to Jupiter space directly, though it might be able to if equipped with a powerful Centaur kick stage.

Both the economics and physics of getting to Europa change if SpaceX's Starship, currently under development in Boca Chica, Texas, becomes available to launch the Europa Clipper in the mid-2020s. The Starship is meant to fulfill SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk's dreams of settling Mars. But the massive reusable rocket would be available for other things, presumably including sending probes to the outer planets.

[....] The SLS has since been a lead weight on America's space ambitions. The SLS slated to launch the Artemis 1 uncrewed mission around the moon is currently stuck in a ground-based "green run" series of tests. The SLS is currently using up a great deal of the money allocated to NASA's Artemis program. The first flight is scheduled for November 2021 at the earliest.

Perhaps Boeing could rescue the SLS by introducing a new SLS-MAX product.


Original Submission

After a Decade, NASA’s Big Rocket Fails its First Real Test 44 comments

After a decade, NASA's big rocket fails its first real test:

For a few moments, it seemed like the Space Launch System saga might have a happy ending. Beneath brilliant blue skies late on Saturday afternoon, NASA's huge rocket roared to life for the very first time. As its four engines lit, and thrummed, thunder rumbled across these Mississippi lowlands. A giant, beautiful plume of white exhaust billowed away from the test stand.

It was all pretty damn glorious until it stopped suddenly.

About 50 seconds into what was supposed to be an 8-minute test firing, the flight control center called out, "We did get an MCF on Engine 4." This means there was a "major component failure" with the fourth engine on the vehicle. After a total of about 67 seconds, the hot fire test ended.

During a post-flight news conference, held outside near the test stand, officials offered few details about what had gone wrong. "We don't know what we don't know," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "It's not everything we hoped it would be."

He and NASA's program manager for the SLS rocket, John Honeycutt, sought to put a positive spin on the day. They explained that this is why spaceflight hardware is tested. They expressed confidence that this was still the rocket that would launch the Orion spacecraft around the Moon.

And yet it is difficult to say what happened Saturday is anything but a bitter disappointment. This rocket core stage was moved to Stennis from its factory in nearby Louisiana more than one calendar year ago, with months of preparations for this critical test firing.

Honeycutt said before the test, and then again afterward, that NASA had been hoping to get 250 seconds worth of data, if not fire the rocket for the entire duration of its nominal ascent to space. Instead it got a quarter of that.


Original Submission

NASA’s Massive Artemis Moon Rocket Set for Second Hot Fire Test Today 1500 EDT (1900 UTC) 17 comments

NASA’s Massive Artemis Moon Rocket Set for Second Hot Fire Test – Watch Live Coverage Today:

NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 18, for the second hot fire test of the core stage for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The agency plans to begin live coverage on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app approximately 30 minutes before the hot fire. The team will refine the timeline as it proceeds through operations. NASA will provide updates on the operations and the target hot fire time at @NASA and the Artemis blog.

[...] A post-test briefing will follow on NASA Television approximately two hours after the test.

Previously:
Green Run Update: NASA Proceeds with Plans for Second Hot Fire Test
After a Decade, NASA’s Big Rocket Fails its First Real Test
NASA TV to Air Hot Fire Test of Rocket Core Stage for Artemis Missions


Original Submission

NASA Has Begun a Study of the SLS Rocket’s Affordability [Updated] 47 comments

NASA has begun a study of the SLS rocket's affordability [Updated]:

Original story: NASA is conducting an internal review of the Space Launch System rocket's affordability, two sources have told Ars Technica.

Concerned by the program's outsized costs, the NASA transition team appointed by President Joe Biden initiated the study. The analysis is being led by Paul McConnaughey, a former deputy center director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, as well as its chief engineer.

The SLS rocket program has been managed by Marshall for more than a decade. Critics have derided it as a "jobs program" intended to retain employees at key centers, such as Alabama-based Marshall, as well as those at primary contractors such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Aerojet Rocketdyne. Such criticism has been bolstered by frequent schedule delays—the SLS was originally due to launch in 2016, and the rocket will now launch no sooner than 2022—as well as cost overruns.

For now, costs seem to be the driving factor behind the White House's concerns. With a maximum cadence of one launch per year, the SLS rocket is expected to cost more than $2 billion per flight, and that is on top of the $20 billion NASA has already spent developing the vehicle and its ground systems. Some of the incoming officials do not believe the Artemis Moon Program is sustainable with such launch costs.

Update: After this story was published, NASA released the following statement at 11pm ET on Monday regarding the internal study:

NASA is conducting an internal study of the timing and sequence of lunar missions with available resources, and with the guidance that SLS and Orion will be providing crew transportation to the Gateway. The backbone for NASA's Moon to Mars plans are the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, ground systems at Kennedy Space Center, Gateway in lunar orbit and human landing system. We currently are alsoassessing various elements of our programs to find efficiencies and opportunities to reduce costs, and this exercise is ongoing. This will include conversations with our industry partners. Budget forecasts and internal agency reviews are common practice as they help us with long-term planning. The agency anticipates taking full advantage of the powerful SLS capabilities, and this effort will improve the current construct associated with executing the development, production and operations of the NASA's Artemis missions.


Original Submission

COVID-19 Pandemic Estimated to Cost NASA $3 Billion 37 comments

Pandemic to cost NASA up to $3 billion

A NASA audit concluded that costs imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the agency could reach $3 billion, with several major science and exploration programs accounting for much of that cost.

A March 31 report by the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) stated that the agency expects that the pandemic's effects on the agency, ranging from closed facilities to disrupted supply chains, to be nearly $3 billion. Of that, about $1.6 billion came from 30 major programs and projects, defined by NASA as those with a total cost of at least $250 million.

[...] The project with the largest cost increase in the report is the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, formerly known as the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). It reported $3 million in costs because of the pandemic in fiscal year 2020, but estimates nearly $400 million in additional impacts in future years. The mission has a lifecycle cost of $3.9 billion.

[...] The Space Launch System had the second-highest cost increase in terms of overall dollars, at $363 million, of which $8 million was in fiscal year 2020 and $355 million in fiscal years 2021 through 2023. A three-month delay in the first SLS mission, Artemis 1, along with "rephrasing production" each accounted for about one-third of the costs. The rest came from "surge costs" to compress schedules as well as the costs of facility shutdowns.

The Orion spacecraft suffered $146 million in costs, including $5 million in fiscal year 2020 and $66 million in fiscal year 2021. Because the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 1 mission was nearly complete at the time the pandemic hit, the largest effects were on the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 2 and 3 missions, both still in production. Those problems extended to Europe, with delays in the production of the European Service Module for the Artemis 2 Orion.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @10:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @10:01PM (#1191481)
    No such rocket(s). Please do not attempt to calculate the price per zero rockets.
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @10:57PM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @10:57PM (#1191496)

    They'll be lucky if they're flying BY the 2050s

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @11:00PM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @11:00PM (#1191498)

      SLS should fly sometime next year. New Glenn is the one with the long lead time. I wish I was being funny.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by khallow on Friday October 29 2021, @01:54PM (4 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 29 2021, @01:54PM (#1191670) Journal
        Schedule slip is a thing. SLS should fly sometime [engadget.com] in 2018. You heard it here first!
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @11:29PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @11:29PM (#1191852)

          True, but there isn't much schedule left to slip. They've finished stacking and are currently completing final integration and testing. For any other launch provider that would take a couple of weeks at most. "Sometime next year" means sometime in the next 14 months, or about 30x longer than it should take. Even Boeing can only drag it out so long

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:22AM (2 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:22AM (#1191866) Journal
            We'll see. My take is that there's plenty of schedule to slip. Sure, they have a good chance of launching successfully in 2022. But they also have a good chance of putting that launch off for more years.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:36PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:36PM (#1191928)

              This late in the game that becomes increasingly difficult to justify. Unless they have another major test failure, which would make Boeing look bad at a time when they are already getting bad press due to Starliner, I'm not sure how they can slow things down more than they currently are. The only meaningful way I can see to drag it out more is to cancel Artemis, say, due to lack of space suits, and then "redesign" SLS for a different mission again. Probably either back to Mars or deep space probes. I'd bet on the latter since that would do the most damage to NASA's scientific mission.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:44PM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:44PM (#1191930) Journal

                This late in the game that becomes increasingly difficult to justify.

                Doesn't matter if they find a flaw that's too dangerous or blow up the rocket.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday October 29 2021, @03:11PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 29 2021, @03:11PM (#1191705) Journal

        SLS should fly sometime next year.

        For how many years have we heard that?

        --
        Calmly vote. Fill out your ballet and drop it in the ballet box. Don't dance around bothering the pole watchers.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @10:57PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @10:57PM (#1191497)

    As others pointed out in the Arstechnica comments about this, the half off offer means nothing since NASA is still covering the development costs and possibly facility costs as well. The rocket could actually be more expensive and still count as 'half off'.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday October 28 2021, @11:19PM (5 children)

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday October 28 2021, @11:19PM (#1191502)

    The only possible justification I could have for this would be if they didn't want to be sole-source dependent on SpaceX for heavy lift launches.

    Scratch that, there is another explanation. It's possible, even likely, that this is a job subsidy program in exchange for some other political favor.

    Damn.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Freeman on Friday October 29 2021, @01:54PM

      by Freeman (732) on Friday October 29 2021, @01:54PM (#1191669) Journal

      The "reason" is so they aren't solely dependent on SpaceX. The actual reason is pork barreling. I.E. Jobs programs for X State(s).

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @05:44PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @05:44PM (#1191755)

      Elizabeth Green wrote:

      The only possible justification I could have for this would be if they didn't want to be sole-source dependent on SpaceX for heavy lift launches.

      Once SS/SH is flying reliably, which seems very likely to eventually be the case, the easy way to avoid sole-source dependency, and thus always have 2 ways to get to space, would be to spin off F9/FH into an independent company.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @11:33PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @11:33PM (#1191853)

        If Starship pans out then Falcon won't be economical to fly any more. Just let that sink in.

        • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Saturday October 30 2021, @03:42PM (1 child)

          by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Saturday October 30 2021, @03:42PM (#1191962)

          How cool would that be? :)

          The thing about technology is it gets "easy" once someone has proven its possible. If* SpaceX succeeds they will have a significant first mover advantage in the reusable heavy lift space. That doesn't mean they won't have competition in fairly short order. There's too much money to be made off this rock for it to be the sole purview of one company. That's assuming they don't lock a bunch of the core tech behind patents. I'm ignorant of the details of that possibility.

          * Failure is always an option.

          • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 30 2021, @05:34PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 30 2021, @05:34PM (#1191975)

            SpaceX doesn't patent any of their stuff. Musk's attitude regarding competition amounts to 'come at me, bro', because if someone else can do rocket launches better than he can then he'll happily hire them to build his Mars colony for him. He's only sinking billions into it himself because nobody else would and he got tired of waiting.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @11:33PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @11:33PM (#1191504)

    At this point, enough with the LEO development money.

    The payment should be a check for a successbul flight.

    Also, half seems strange. I though reuse set the market to more like 10x?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @11:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28 2021, @11:36PM (#1191505)

      You're not the buyer. You're the payment.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by khallow on Friday October 29 2021, @12:36AM (3 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 29 2021, @12:36AM (#1191514) Journal

    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.

    You want a long term solution that maximizes the "long-term efficiency and sustainability"? Here you go: Dig a big hole. Drop all your SLS stuff into it. Pour on some gasoline. Light it up. Long term efficiency and sustainability of the program has been achieved!

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Friday October 29 2021, @02:21PM (2 children)

      by Freeman (732) on Friday October 29 2021, @02:21PM (#1191686) Journal

      That would only be true, if they then stopped funding the SLS. That is not a guarantee with your solution.

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:24AM (1 child)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:24AM (#1191867) Journal
        It's not a guarantee either, if they continue to develop SLS. /sarc
        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday November 01 2021, @01:36PM

          by Freeman (732) on Monday November 01 2021, @01:36PM (#1192442) Journal

          Only thing guaranteed right now is the pork barreling.

          --
          Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @04:02PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @04:02PM (#1191720)

    it's prolly expensive since they don't see a reward at the end.
    maybe it's like commissioning a ship but not seeing a benefit when reaching the other side of the ocean?
    so it's basically a "big ship to nowhere for nothing" they figured to just make it expensive so at least there's a reward in the "home harbor"?
    if spaceX returns from "somewhere" with even a small chest of loot, you can bet your ass, SLSs will roll of assembly lines weekly and guaranteed cheap.
    in the mean time ...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @05:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @05:35PM (#1191751)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @11:37PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29 2021, @11:37PM (#1191854)

      You have that backwards. The purpose of SLS is to be as expensive as possible for as long as possible so as to maximally line the right pockets. Actually flying is a detraction from that since flight hardware costs money better spent on yachts and seventh houses. Under that logic a rocket to nowhere is the perfect solution.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:37AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 30 2021, @12:37AM (#1191870) Journal
        Indeed. R&D is where the profit is. Actually launching stuff drops the margin.
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