Upon Closer Look, NASA's Exploration Systems are Game-Changers, OpEd, Mary Lynne Dittmar, SpaceNews
Dittmar: "The point is that there has never been a launch system like this - one that can deliver NASA human exploration and science missions throughout the solar system."
Keith's note: Nonsense. The Saturn V existed and flew more than 40 years ago. Abundant studies were in place whereby it could have been used to send things all over the solar system. But we threw it away. Saturn V's flew at a pace of 2 times a year. SLS launches, as NASA currently plans them, will be years apart. Your basic Saturn V could put 310,000 lb in to LEO. But the more powerful SLS will put 150,000 to 290,000 lb into LEO.
Dittmar: "For the last several years the President's budget request and congressional appropriations have been out of sync, forcing NASA and its contractors to work at a slower pace under greater budget pressure for the first part of the year until congressional appropriations are set at the necessary levels."
Keith's note: GAO: "In 2014, we found that NASA had not matched cost and schedule resources to requirements for the SLS program and was pursuing an aggressive development schedule. This situation, in turn, was compounded by the agency's reluctance to request funding in line with the program's needs. In addition, we found that the agency's preliminary life-cycle cost estimates for human exploration were incomplete."
Dittmar: "With the funding levels appropriated by Congress in the FY16 omnibus, the systems that will enable this the Space Launch System, or SLS, and the Orion crew vehicle are on track for launch of an uncrewed test mission in 2018, and a crewed mission in 2021."
Keith's note: NASA has been keeping two sets of books - the internal set says that it will launch humans on SLS in 2021 while the public one aims for 2023. Now there's a third set of books is being kept wherein a 2024-2025 launch date is being worked.
Dittmar: "It will carry three times more than the Space Shuttle and, eventually, fly faster than anything human beings have ever hurled toward the heavens."
Keith's note: Faster than the Atlas V that launched New Horizons to Pluto? (It took 9 hours to reach the Moon).
Dittmar: "... the speed of the SLS will cut years off of planetary science missions."
Keith's note: What planetary missions? Not a single planetary mission has been approved for flight on SLS. Congress wants a Europa lander. NASA does not. There is no projected budget, no SLS vehicle has been set aside to launch it. SLS was not developed to launch planetary missions. It was designed to send humans to Mars until NASA was desperate for other ways to sell their expensive, delayed rocket - then suddenly it was designed for planetary missions. And the one mission approved by NASA that would send humans to another body in space, ARM, as been specifically banned by Congress. NASA is building the rocket and is now desperately searching for things to do with it.
Dittmar: "Further, every launch of the SLS can enable multiple missions."
Keith's note: Duh. Launch vehicles have been able to launch multiple payloads and support multiple missions for half a century.
- SLS Upper Stage Woes on The Journey To Nowhere, earlier post
- NASA Has Three Different Launch Dates for Humans on SLS, earlier post
- ASAP: NASA Has No Plan or Firm Funding For Its #JourneyToMars , earlier post
- NASA Employs Faith-Based Funding Approach For SLS, earlier post
- SLS/Orion Gets a Lobbying Organization in Washington (Update), earlier post