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NASA Transportation Upgrades

NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever 146

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, NASA has given a green light to the production of a new motor, dubbed the Space Launch System, intended to enable deep space exploration. Boeing, prime contractor on the rocket, announced on Wednesday that it had completed a critical design review and finalized a $US2.8-billion contract with NASA. The last time the space agency made such an assessment of a deep-space rocket was the mighty Saturn V, which took astronauts to the moon. ... Space Launch System's design called for the integration of existing hardware, spurring criticism that it's a "Frankenstein rocket," with much of it assembled from already developed technology. For instance, its two rocket boosters are advanced versions of the Space Shuttle boosters, and a cryogenic propulsion stage is based on the motor of a rocket often used by the Air Force. The Space Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group and frequent NASA critic, said Space Launch System was "built from rotting remnants of left over congressional pork. And its budgetary footprints will stamp out all the missions it is supposed to carry, kill our astronaut program and destroy science and technology projects throughout NASA."
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NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever

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  • by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @10:56AM (#47388227)

    Falcon 9 has a payload capicity of 13,150 Kg to LEO.

    He said "Falcon 9 Heavy" (the original name of the Falcon Heavy). So 50,000kg to LEO, should fly in the next year or two, and cost less than $100m per launch (say $150m with a "NASA paperwork tax".)

    SLS is to have a payload capacity of 130,000 Kg to LEO.

    SLS Block "zero" will lift around 60,000kg, and may fly in 2017 or 2018. Development will have cost $10-12 billion from now 'til then. It won't be able to lift Orion (which won't be ready anyway).

    Block I is meant to loft 70,000 kg to LEO, flying in 2021 at the earliest. Development will have cost $21 billion from now 'til then. It will be able to lift Orion, but only for 14 day missions around the moon and back.

    Block IA is meant to lift 105,000kg, some time in the mid-2020's. And Block II, the one you are talking about, with 130,000kg to LEO, by 2032. Development will have cost over $50 billion from now 'til then.

    That doesn't include any other hardware, nor any launch or mission costs. Just development.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday July 05, 2014 @12:52PM (#47388755)

    Yeah. SpaceX built a new rocket engine and two new rockets, and actually launched them into space, for about the same amount of money as NASA spent putting a dummy upper stage on top of a shuttle SRB and launching it into the ocean.

    Go NASA R&D!

    SLS is a pure pork project, there are no funded missions that need it, and it will cost billions of dollars to launch, which means there will be few, if any, missions that ever do use it. There is no rational justification for it whatsoever.

    At the rate they're going, when NASA launches a crew to Mars in an Orion capsule on an SLS booster, there'll already be tourists waiting to greet them, having been flown there by SpaceX for a tiny fraction of the cost of the government option.

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