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posted by martyb on Tuesday March 12 2019, @02:07AM   Printer-friendly
from the Merlin,-Falcon-9,-and-Falcon-Heavy-were-developed-for-less-than-$1B-total dept.

NASA budget proposal targets SLS (Space Launch System)

The White House's fiscal year 2020 budget request for NASA proposes to delay work on an upgraded version of the Space Launch System and would transfer some of that vehicle's payloads to other rockets.

The proposal, released by the Office of Management and Budget March 11, offers a total of $21 billion for the space agency, a decrease of $500 million over what Congress appropriated in the final fiscal year 2019 spending bill signed into law Feb. 15.

A major element of the proposal is to defer work on the Block 1B version of the SLS, which would increase the rocket's performance by replacing its existing Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage with the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage. The budget "instead focuses the program on the completion of the initial version of the SLS and supporting a reliable SLS and Orion annual flight cadence," the OMB budget stated. The first SLS/Orion mission, without a crew, is now planned for the "early 2020s," according to the budget, an apparent slip from the planned 2020 launch of Exploration Mission 1.

NASA had previously planned to use the Block 1B version of SLS to launch elements of its lunar Gateway, using a "co-manifesting" capability enabled by the rocket's greater performance. Instead, according to the budget document, those components will be launched on "competitively procured vehicles, complementing crew transport flights on the SLS and Orion."

[...] The budget proposal would also remove one non-exploration payload from the SLS manifest. The proposal offers $600 million for the Europa Clipper mission, enabling a launch in 2023. However, NASA would instead seek to launch the mission on a commercial launch vehicle rather than SLS, a move it claims "would save over $700 million, allowing multiple new activities to be funded across the Agency." The fiscal year 2019 budget request also proposed a commercial launch of Europa Clipper, but Congress placed into law in the final funding bill the requirement to use SLS for that mission.

Are we nearing a good timeline?

Related: After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System?
House Spending Bill Offers NASA More Money Than the Agency or Administration Wanted
NASA Administrator Ponders the Fate of SLS in Interview
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Could Launch Japanese and European Payloads to Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Northrop Grumman Exec Warns of Coming "Affordability" in the Space Launch System's Future
Impact of the Midterm Elections May be Felt at NASA
When Space Science Becomes a Political Liability

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  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday March 14 2019, @08:35PM (3 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Thursday March 14 2019, @08:35PM (#814437)

    Oh, absolutely. In fact they aim to bring the per-launch cost down below the F9 in relatively short order.

    But that's not what the tweets takyon linked to are about - they seem to be specifically about bringing the *construction cost* of a BFR down below that of an F9:

            This will sound implausible, but I think there’s a path to build Starship / Super Heavy for less than Falcon 9

            — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 11, 2019

            At least 10X cheaper

            — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 11, 2019

    That would be a real game changer, but I'm not holding my breath.

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday March 14 2019, @09:05PM (2 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 14 2019, @09:05PM (#814466) Journal
    Impressive if true, BUT...
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday March 14 2019, @09:13PM (1 child)

      by Immerman (3985) on Thursday March 14 2019, @09:13PM (#814475)


      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday March 14 2019, @09:21PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 14 2019, @09:21PM (#814482) Journal
        Let me just say here, that I have never cared what Musk has tweeted about. This is in large part why. I simply don't believe it's going to be true and thus, there's not much point to discussing tweets and similar communication eruptions. Further, the whole industry is lousy with this stuff. We have all kinds of people making all kinds of unfounded claims about what their business/national space program/pet project/etc is going to do in a few short years.
        Nothing is the usual result.