Rocket Report: Japanese rocket blows up, NASA chief ponders purpose of SLS [arstechnica.com] (and other news)
NASA Administrator ponders what to do with the SLS rocket. During a Q&A with Politico [politico.com], NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was asked about how the space agency views commercial launch vehicles. His response: "As we move forward, we're going to have to maybe rethink... at what point do we start taking advantage of those commercial capabilities to the extent that they drive down cost, give us more capability, and what do we do with SLS?... We're not there yet, but certainly there's a horizon here. Is it 10 years? I don't know what the answer is, but what we can't do in my view is give up our government capability, our national capability, when we don't have an alternative."
Speaking of timelines ... NASA doesn't exactly have the "national capability" of the SLS rocket yet in the heavy-lift class, either. We've heard rumors of a slip to 2021 for the first launch date, in which case Blue Origin's New Glenn has a fighting chance to fly first, as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket has already done.
Blue Origin targets Moon landing by 2023. Blue Origin's business development director, A.C. Charania, said at a conference [geekwire.com] that the company's Blue Moon program is "our first step to developing a lunar landing capability for the country, for other customers internationally, to be able to land multi metric tons on the lunar surface." The company has not said what role its large orbital rocket under development, New Glenn, would play in a mission to the Moon.
Related: First SLS Mission Will be Unmanned [soylentnews.org]
After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System? [soylentnews.org]
President Trump Praises Falcon Heavy, Diminishes NASA's SLS Effort [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s [soylentnews.org]
NASA's Chief of Human Spaceflight Rules Out Use of Falcon Heavy for Lunar Station [soylentnews.org]
NASA Could Scale Down First Manned Flight of the SLS [soylentnews.org]
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Serious About Returning to the Moon [soylentnews.org]
Jeff Bezos Details Moon Settlement Ambitions in Interview [soylentnews.org]
This Week in Space Pessimism: SLS, Mars, and Lunar Gateway [soylentnews.org]