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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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  • pfft, 3.5% overrun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:51PM (#47533587)

    if the 400 million is really the only overrun that's an astonishing record for the federal goverment

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:52PM (#47533597)

    SpaceX doesn't have to build facilities in every state to appease Congress.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:53PM (#47533603)

    Ah, I see the problem!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:57PM (#47533651)

    You can not compare spacex vehicles with the damn SLS. The SLS is a deep space vehicle. When spacex is building a vehicle to send to mars or beyond, then yes, they can compare the SLS to spacex A manned launch into low earth orbit is not even close to deep space. Not bashing SpaceX, but apples and oranges here...

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:03PM (#47533683)

    The SLS is a deep space vehicle.

    Uh, no, it's not. There's nothing 'deep space' about SLS that's not 'deep space' about Falcon 9. You can launch a deep space probe on Falcon 9, and you could launch a deep space probe on SLS if it's ever built.

    SLS, as designed, is just a very expensive way to put 70 tons into orbit. Maybe, at some point, if Congress funds it, it might become a very expensive way to put 100-130 tons into orbit. Well before then, Falcon Heavy should be putting 50 tons into orbit for less than 5% of the cost of an SLS launch.

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:14PM (#47533765) []

    Doesn't the old saying go "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" ?

    What is it when it is fool me endlessly ? NASA does not bring down the cost of space access period. The shuttle didn't none of their boosters ever have. If we get really lucky we get commercial enterprises able to do end runs around them to actually make a little progress.

    Really we should have NASA do what it is good at, robotic exploration and high risk high payoff research. Let commercial companies do what they are good at mass production and perfecting technologies.

  • by electrosoccertux ( 874415 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:20PM (#47533811)

    if the 400 million is really the only overrun that's an astonishing record for the federal goverment

    of ALL the government programs worth blowing money on, I think NASA should be one of them. It stimulates the economy with relevant tech spending, inspires our children, and sets a rocket ahead of other nations.

    NASA is of the things we can look back at over the last 50 years and be immensely proud of. Proud to a NASA supporting American.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:32PM (#47533901)

    The falacy is related to destroying things to create work. It does not apply here.

    The fallacy is related to making a decision by looking only at the parties directly involved in the short term, rather than looking at all parties (directly and indirectly) involved in the short and long term.

    Thats a direct quote from the link that you do not understand but amazingly had to balls to act like an expert on. Dont open your mouth when ignorant unless its to ask questions to reduce your level of ignorance.

  • by werepants ( 1912634 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:36PM (#47533933)
    I agree with you that NASA is a worthy recipient of our tax dollars, but as long as congress keeps mandating that they design rockets based on how many people they can employ in how many districts, we're never going to get out of LEO again. This money would be better spent on commercial crew type programs, with a commercial-off-the-shelf model rather than the chronically over-schedule and over-budget cost plus approach.
  • Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gerardrj ( 207690 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @05:05PM (#47534675) Journal

    NASA to Congress: We want to build a launch system that will be the single most important component in the US presence in space for the nest several generations. We need $20B for it from planning to first launch.
    Congress to NASA: Screw that, you get $12B.
    NASA to Congress: We can almost do it with $12B, we need an additional $400M
    Congress to NASA: Justify the additional $$

    Military to Congress: We need $10B to build a new strike fighter that no-one really wants.
    Congress to Military: Here ya go
    Military to Congress: Oops. We've crashed a bunch of prototypes, and still have major design flaws and systems failures. Another $10B should get us on track.
    Congress to Military: Here ya go
    Military to Congress: Supplier problems, we need another $10B
    Congress to Military: Here ya go

    Why are we so damned willing to spend money to kill people more efficiently and not to do science that positively impacts all our lives every day?

  • by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @05:49PM (#47534943)

    Yes, the SSL will start at 70t and move forward to (maybe) 155t.

    But no, 10 13 ton lauches of the Falcon 9 does probabbly does not get you the same thing as a single lauch of 130t. Assemble is a issue. Some things are better built and have less wastage in large intergated units on the ground than assempbled in space.

    We should compare apples to apples, not oranges. Which leads me to my biggest gripe about NASA (and by extension, the American government) – their plans are so murky and ill defined. Each stage of the program was like a rung on a ladder – leading to the eventual goal. How does the ISS fit into going to Mars? How does the SLS? How come we are always punting this thing down the road by 20 years. It is almost a program in search of a mission. Please don't take this as an attack on basic science and research – just how NASA does it.

  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @06:26PM (#47535143)

    "I can't imagine how demoralizing it is to spend years working on a project that would ultimately succeed"

    None of NASA's major manned spaced projects are even remotely likely to succeed, they are not intended to do so any more. They are just a place to blow money, create jobs and put money in Lockheed and Boeing pockets. More importantly they buy votes in the critical swing state of Florida.

    They are designed to run 4-8 years, produce nothing except votes, paychecks and contractor profits, then they get cancelled and start over. It is way easier and less risk than actually making anything that will fly.

    It is not the political process that is broken, it is NASA and the political process.

    Get a clue, and spend a few billion on SpaceX to help finish Falcon Heavy. I'm not sure why SLS is even on the table at this point, it isn't remotely competitive.

    Lockheed and Boeing also need to be completely removed from the process. They are making a mint milking DOD contracts, they don't need to be in middle of the civilian space program fleecing NASA and taxpayers there too. They do not use money wisely, they devour everything thrown their way and produce as little as possible in return.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI