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Leaning Tower of NASA

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-02-20 22:43:53

NASA's nearly billion-dollar mobile launcher tower for the Space Launch System [] (SLS) is leaning, and may be discarded after a single use []:

[The "mobile launcher" component] supports the testing and servicing of the massive SLS rocket, as well as moving it to the launch pad and providing a platform from which it will launch.

According to a new report [] in, the expensive tower is "leaning" and "bending." For now, NASA says, the lean is not sufficient enough to require corrective action, but it is developing contingency plans in case the lean angle becomes steeper.

These defects raise concerns about the longevity of the launch tower and increase the likelihood that NASA will seek additional funding to build a second one. In fact, it is entirely possible that the launch tower may serve only for the maiden flight of the SLS rocket in 2020 and then be cast aside. This would represent a significant waste of resources by the space agency.

[...] [From] the tower's inception in 2009, NASA will have spent $912 million on the mobile launcher it may use for just a single launch of the SLS rocket. Moreover, the agency will have required eight years to modify a launch tower it built in two years.

The second mobile launcher, intended for larger versions of the SLS, will cost about $300 million (if not more).

Related: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019 []
Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset []
NASA Opens Door to Possibly Lowering SLS Cost Using Blue Origin's Engines []
After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System? []

Original Submission