SLS Just Lost One Of Its Big Selling Points

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for the Europa Clipper Mission

"NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for Earth's first mission to conduct detailed investigations of Jupiter's moon Europa. The Europa Clipper mission will launch in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The total contract award amount for launch services is approximately $178 million."

Keith's note: The White House estimated that the cost of a SLS launch for Europa Clipper was in the range of $2 billion. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy choice saves virtually all of that - even though it was still in an imaginary outyear budget. Meanwhile, the whole SLS promotional rationale i.e. that it can do everything everywhere bigger and faster - and that space/planetary science folks should love it as a result - is falling apart with this announcement. And oh yes: Psyche was already manifested on a Falcon Heavy so the confidence in that launch vehicle - the most powerful rocket that is now flying - is simply growing. And the SpaceX Starship will soon blast the Artemis program of record paradigm apart as well. As far as the rationale for SLS being a part of a multi-decades-long program of lunar, Martian, and solar system exploration goes: Tick tock.

- Surprise: SLS Will Cost 30% More Than The Last Big Cost Increase, earlier post
- Congress Uses Legal Snark To Ask NASA About SLS And Europa, earlier post
- Babin Requests Information on Europa Clipper Mission and SLS Use, earlier post
- NASA OIG Follow-up to May 2019 Audit of Europa Mission: Congressional Launch Vehicle Mandate, earlier post
- Europa Clipper Mission Confirmed, earlier post
- GAO Report On NASA: Things Cost More And Take Longer, earlier post
- Moon 2024 Goal Delays SLS Availability For Europa Clipper, earlier post

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 24, 2021 1:18 PM.

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