That Alternate Reality Without SLS

How I learned to stop worrying and love the big $60B NASA rocket, Ars Technica

"So if NASA makes 20 SLS flights by the end of the 2030s, the rocket will roughly cost the agency a total of $60 billion, or $3 billion per flight. Now imagine NASA issuing a Request for Information for heavy lift in 2011. Say the agency was willing to pay a fixed-price sum of $10 billion to a private company to develop a 100-ton heavy lift launch vehicle and a per flight fee of $500 million. Either SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, or another company (Blue Origin, perhaps) certainly would have been capable of delivering a flight-ready rocket within a decade. After buying 20 launches, NASA would still have $40 billion left to spend on things other than rockets. During this decade, then, the agency could have focused on deep space habitats, landers, in-space propulsion, Mars gravity studies, and more. When the private rocket was ready to go in 2021, NASA would be prepared to fly meaningful missions. This isn't a hypothetical, by the way. Back in the late 2000s, United Launch Alliance outlined a path of upgrades for its Delta IV Heavy rocket that included derivatives (based upon an innovative ACES upper stage and new engines) that could get 90 tons or more to low-Earth orbit. This could be flying today for less than $10 billion. This was common knowledge to NASA and the aerospace community at the time SLS came into existence, but Congress wasn't interested."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on September 9, 2016 6:15 PM.

SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update) was the previous entry in this blog.

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