Casual Discussion Science Forum @scivillage

Full Version: NASA wants to cling to dinosaur SLS rocket for decades, after all (engineering)
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
NASA wants to buy SLS rockets at half price, fly them into the 2050s

EXCERPTS: 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.

The request comes as NASA and its chief contractor for the rocket, Boeing, are nearing the launch pad after a long, arduous, and expensive development process that has lasted more than a decade. The heavy lift SLS rocket, carrying an Orion space capsule, should finally make its debut during the first half of 2022.

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."

[...] How does one make a system that has been anything but affordable and sustainable into something that is affordable and sustainable? NASA says it wants to transition ownership of rocket production and ground services to the private industry. In return, this private contractor should build and launch the SLS at a substantial savings of 50 percent or more off of the current industry "baseline per flight cost."

Notably, NASA has never publicly stated this baseline flight cost. Ars asked the NASA communications office on Tuesday for this figure, but as of Wednesday morning there has been no response. In 2019, the White House Office of Management and Budget estimated the cost of one SLS launch a year at "over $2 billion." Subsequently NASA did not deny that figure, but it has not been transparent with taxpayers about the rocket's expected costs.

Anyway, NASA now proposes to cut this cost—whatever it is—in half. And it seeks to fly the Space Launch System rocket well into the middle of the 21st century... (MORE - missing details)