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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday April 30 2017, @11:39PM   Printer-friendly

The first launch of the SLS has slipped again:

NASA has decided it must delay the maiden flight of its Space Launch System rocket, presently scheduled for November 2018, until at least early 2019. This decision was widely expected due to several problems with the rocket, Orion spacecraft, and ground launch systems. The delay was confirmed in a letter from a NASA official released Thursday by the US Government Accountability Office.

The Falcon Heavy will be able to deliver payloads that are similar to what SLS Block 1 can carry:

In its maiden flight configuration, named Block 1, the heavy-lifter will be able to haul up to 77 tons (70 metric tons) of cargo to low Earth orbit, more than double the capacity of the most powerful launcher flying today — United Launch Alliance's Delta 4-Heavy. The Block 1 version of SLS will fly with an upper stage propelled by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engine, based on the Delta 4's second stage.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, scheduled to make its first flight later this year, will come in just shy of the SLS Block 1's capacity if the commercial space company gave up recovering its booster stages.

NASA plans to introduce a bigger four-engine second stage on the EM-2 launch, a configuration of the SLS named Block 1B.

GAO report.


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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday May 01 2017, @12:47PM

    by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday May 01 2017, @12:47PM (#502242) Journal

    A SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch will cost $90 million and is expected to decrease sharply in the coming years thanks to their successful efforts at creating true reusability.

    New Horizons had a mass of 478 kg [nasa.gov] when it launched, 77 kg of which was hydrazine propellant, 30 kg of scientific payload. It launched on an Atlas V-551, which costs about $100 million [wikipedia.org], maybe more. Falcon Heavy can apparently get a 3,500 kg payload [spacex.com] to Pluto.

    Falcon Heavy will be able to deliver 3-4 times as much payload [spacex.com] as Falcon 9 [spacex.com]. Atlas V has similar capabilities to Falcon 9 and a similar cost to Falcon Heavy.

    One thing to note: the top estimates for payload are based on the system being fully expendable [wikipedia.org].

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