Only NASA Would Spend Billions To Make A Reusable Engine Disposable

NASA will pay a staggering $146 million for each SLS rocket engine, Ans Technica

"However, this is not the true price of these engines. NASA has previously given more than $1 billion to Aerojet to "restart" production of the space shuttle era engines and a contract for six new ones. So, according to the space agency, NASA has spent $3.5 billion for a total of 24 rocket engines."

Keith's note: Only NASA would spend billions to develop a reusable engine and then spend billions more to make the reusable engine into a disposable engine. But wait - there's more. Its not the first time NASA spent vast sums of money upgrading an old engine design. Aerojet Rocketdyne also got a pile of money to develop the modified Apollo era J-2 (J-2x) engine for use on the SLS' predecessor the Ares V. And where did the $1.4 billion J-2x funding go? Answer: a bunch of engines that will never be used and hardware that needed to be re-redesigned for RS-25.

NASA Awards Upper Stage Engine Contract for Ares Rockets, NASA (2007)

"NASA has signed a $1.2 billion contract with Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne Inc., of Canoga Park, Calif., for design, development, testing and evaluation of the J-2X engine that will power the upper stages of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles. The contract includes ground and test flight engines. It continues work that began on June 2, 2006, under a preliminary letter contract with Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne."

NASA's Management of Space Launch System Program Costs and Contracts, 20 March 2020, NASA OIG

"The RS-25 Adaptation contract with Aerojet provides for the retrofitting of Space Shuttle main engines for use on the SLS under a cost-plus-award-fee and incentive-fee structure. This contract began in 2006 under the Constellation Program to develop J-2X engines for use on the Ares I rockets. In 2011, the SLS work was added to retrofit and certify 16 RS-25 Engines for the first four Artemis missions. ... The $2.06 billion contract will end in March 2020, of which $1.4 billion was spent on development of the J-2X engine for the Constellation Program. ... Specifically, Aerojet anticipated reworking the Constellation Program's J-2X ECU for the SLS Program, but found instead they needed to develop a completely new ECU, which added time and cost to the contract."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on May 2, 2020 2:55 PM.

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