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NASA Government Space The Almighty Buck United States

SLS Project Coming Up $400 Million Short 132

schwit1 writes: A GAO report finds that the Space Launch System is over budget and NASA will need an additional $400 million to complete its first orbital launch in 2017. From the article: "NASA isn't meeting its own requirements for matching cost and schedule resources with the congressional requirement to launch the first SLS in December 2017. NASA usually uses a calculation it calls the 'joint cost and schedule confidence level' to decide the odds a program will come in on time and on budget. 'NASA policy usually requires a 70 percent confidence level for a program to proceed with final design and fabrication,' the GAO report says, and the SLS is not at that level. The report adds that government programs that can't match requirements to resources 'are at increased risk of cost and schedule growth.'

In other words, the GAO says SLS is at risk of costing more than the current estimate of $12 billion to reach the first launch or taking longer to get there. Similar cost and schedule problems – although of a larger magnitude – led President Obama to cancel SLS's predecessor rocket system called Constellation shortly after taking office." The current $12 billion estimate is for the program's cost to achieve one unmanned launch. That's four times what it is costing NASA to get SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada to build their three spaceships, all scheduled for their first manned launches before 2017.
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SLS Project Coming Up $400 Million Short

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  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:50PM (#47533579)

    They're short more money than SpaceX spent to develop the Falcon 9.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:20PM (#47533815)

    It stimulates the economy

    So we meet again. []

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @05:12PM (#47534723)

    You are factually wrong on several counts.

    SpaceX is not working on any version of the CST-100, and their only relation is that the CST-100 is supposedly designed to be compatible with the Falcon 9 launcher (I have reasonable doubt that will happen). They delivered the Dragon cargo capsule, and are working on the manned Dragon V2.

    Boeing's CST-100 is orbital, not suborbital. Suborbital means it will not complete a single orbit, like a missile.

    Sierra's Dream Chaser is also not suborbital. It also uses many non-NASA technologies, such as the hybrid rocket engines.

    You further have many logical errors, the most persistent being the conflation of the launch vehicle with the crew vehicle. SLS, Falcon 9 and Atlas V are launch vehicles. Orion, Dragon, CST-100 and Dream Chaser are crew vehicles.

    Orion is NASA's crew vehicle (actually, Lockheed Martin's, but I'll get to that in a bit). It is not suitable for missions beyond the Moon - it has a designed mission length of only three weeks (21 days), which is unsuitable for anything beyond Earth orbit. You are correct that manned deep-space missions will need a super-heavy launch vehicle such as SLS, but Orion itself will not be the crew vehicle.

    You also make a mistake in your history. NASA did not produce the Apollo landers or the Saturn V (what I assume you refer to as "what nasa did 30 years ago" or "other NASA firsts"). They set the requirements, and solicited bids from private companies. Just as they're doing now - Orion is being made by Lockheed Martin, the SLS boosters are being made by ATK, Rocketdyne is making the core engines, Boeing is making the upper stage. Really, all NASA is doing is assembling the entire thing, and of course setting the specs and requirements.

    Let's look at the Apollo command module, the closest equivalent to Orion/CST-100/Dragon. It was developed by North American Aviation. They merged with Rockwell-Standard during the 1967 to form North American Rockwell, later renamed to Rockwell International, under which name they produced the Space Shuttle orbiter. The Rockwell International space division was sold in 1996 to... Boeing.

    Boeing isn't "ripping off from NASA firsts". They're building off work that they did for NASA in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. If anything "NASA" is ripping of them, but I remind you that Lockheed Martin is the one actually building the thing you want to attribute to NASA.

    Sierra Nevada is building off SpaceShipOne technology, not any NASA programs. Just because it looks vaguely like the Space Shuttle, that does not mean it actually works the same way. The engines are completely and fundamentally different, as is the aerodynamic design.

    And SpaceX is developing everything on their own. The only thing they used from another company is some software/control design from Tesla Motors, a company not coincidentally also owned by Elon Musk. I personally doubt much was even borrowed there except for the basic idea of a single big touchscreen, but I guess it makes for good brand advertising.

    tl;dr you're wrong in your terminology, you're wrong in your facts, you're wrong in your logic, and you're wrong in your conclusions.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas