SLS and Orion: June 2011 Archives

SLS Decision Soon?

NASA Will Compete Space Launch System Boosters, Aviation Week

"NASA has selected a shuttle-derived vehicle with two existing liquid-oxygen/liquid-hydrogen stages as its reference design for the heavy-lift Space Launch System that Congress has ordered it to build for exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit, but it will hold a competition between liquid- and solid-fuel boosters to get it off the pad. Administrator Charles Bolden on Wednesday endorsed the basic concept developed by launch vehicle experts at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), and sent it on to the White House Office of Management and Budget for confirmation."

NASA selects new heavy-lift rocket, say sources, Space News via MSNBC

"Since the law's enactment, NASA has provided Congress with SLS reference designs that also closely resemble the Ares 5, but at the same time warned that the vehicle could not be fielded on the designated schedule under current budget scenarios. Industry sources privately questioned the affordability of NASA's latest strategy, given that it adds a brand new engine development program to the mix. Some also have suggested that competition will slow the SLS development effort. Shelby disagrees. He wrote that he has "seen no evidence that foregoing competition for the booster system will speed development of SLS or, conversely, that introducing competition will slow the program down." Shelby also said the SLS language in the authorization act gives NASA sufficient leeway to hold a competition."

Servicing Study, GSFC

"From March 24-26, 2010, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) hosted an open international workshop to bring potential users and providers of on-orbit servicing capabilities together with the NASA GSFC Satellite Servicing Study Team. The event workshop drew together 57 individual speakers and over 250 participants from industry, academia, NASA, other agencies, and international organizations. ... The servicing mission study activity will result in a report to NASA, and subsequently to Congress, on the results of this workshop together with the integrated results from the servicing study team. The final report to Congress is currently under NASA review."

Feasibility of Using Constellation Architecture or Robotic Missions for Servicing Existing and Future Spacecraft

"NASA will execute a robust study, led by Goddard Space Flight Center under the direction of the Space Operations Missions Directorate (SOMD). The planning activity began in May 2009 and a final report to Congress is due in September 2010."

Keith's note: It has been more than a year since the meeting. The On-Orbit Satellite Servicing Study Project Report was posted recenty (18 June) here. But NASA GSFC never bothered to tell anyone that it had been posted - nor did they bother to link from the page that announced the study. But according to this page "An internal Project Report captures the work performed under the congressional mandate. SSCO's report to Congress is currently under review." So they have yet to deliver the report to Congress - and the report was due for delivery 10 months ago.

NASA Defends Satellite Refueling Demo, Space News

"NASA officials said that they have no intention of developing a satellite refueling business to compete with private industry. "NASA managers have met with officials from MDA and Intelsat, who understand that NASA plans to take the RRM hardware to the International Space Station to use as a technology test bed," NASA spokesman Michael Curie said in an emailed response to questions. "The results of the RRM tests will be shared with everyone, including them. NASA is not doing this to compete with industry. In fact, by conducting these tests on the space station, NASA believes it will help reduce the eventual risk and cost to industry."

NASA's uncertain future: New rocket design in works, but its mission is unclear, Orlando Sentinel

"I don't think we need it. I don't think we can afford to operate it. I think it will be rarely used and expensive to maintain," said Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator. "The most likely possibility is that it [the rocket] is unfortunately going to collapse under its own weight in a couple years." Already, NASA has told Congress that it can't build the rocket and its companion crew capsule by the 2017 deadline with the money -- at least $14 billion over the next five years -- it has been given. More seriously, NASA hasn't decided where it wants the rocket and capsule to go. Agency officials talk constantly about the ultimate goal -- Mars -- but that trip is likely decades away. Few are talking about what to do in the meantime."

Letter to Charles Bolden from Senators Feinstein and Boxer Re: Sole Source for the Space Launch System

"In this time of constrained budgets, it would be inexcusible to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars into a non-competitive sole-source contract for the new Space Launch System. By allowing a competitive process, NASA could realize hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings, and billions in savings over the life of the program. Furthermore, a competitive process will build capacity and enhance the critical skills and capabilities at a wide range of aesrospace technology companies."

Keith's 3 June update: When I asked ESMD AA Doug Cooke about this issue at a Women in Aerospace conference today he said that NASA "had not excluded" the option of a full and open competition for the SLS. That is not a "yes" - but it is not a "no" either.

Heavy Lift Rocket Standoff on Capitol Hill, earlier post



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from June 2011.

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