SLS and Orion: October 2011 Archives

Huntsville and Houston mayors ask Obama for quick action to save space jobs, Huntsville Times

"The mayors point out that both cities have already lost jobs because of the end of the shuttle program and cancellation of the Constellation space exploration projects. Meanwhile, a number of components of the SLS are built and await completion of the rockets and trips into space."

Fueling Stations vs. Monster Rocket, Dana Rohrabacher, Space News

"At the end of our July 12 House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing, "A Review of NASA's Space Launch System," I asked NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about the relative cost of using the technology of on-orbit propellant depots instead of relying on new large heavy-lift launch vehicles. He replied that he believed the studies had been done, and the fuel depot solution proved to be more expensive, and promised to get me the full answer. As of this writing, I am still waiting for that answer. It has been more than three months, and NASA has not provided any analysis, or any data at all, that shows why depots are not a good solution or why they are more expensive."

- Rohrabacher Demands Release of NASA's Recent On-Orbit Fuel Depot Analysis, earlier post - Update on NASA's Hidden Fuel Depot Studies - NASA Studies Show Cheaper Alternatives to SLS, earlier post

Huntsville's Last Stand?

NASA's plan to build new rocket in tight budget times? "Run 'till apprehended", Huntsville Times

"How is NASA approaching the challenge of building a multibillion-rocket in the tightest Washington budget environment in years? "We run till apprehended," one top manager said in Huntsville Tuesday morning. Dumbacher's comment was a joking ice-breaker, but his humor and that of others Tuesday morning was a way for top NASA administrators to acknowledge they're not sure what the budget process will bring, but they are optimistic about the ultimate outcome and they're going to move forward as hard and as quickly as they can with the funds available."

Keith's note: As you can see from these charts taken (out of context) from the 13 July 2010 NASA HEFT presentation "EELV Capacity Analysis", NASA clearly did quite a bit of comparison and contrast between various existing expendable launch vehicles - foreign and domestic - analyses that did not always include use of a SLS-class heavy launch vehicle. Indeed, one chart is titled "International Partners Have Lots of Capacity". The rest of this presentation contains procurement-sensitive information and will not be published here.

That said, it is obvious that even a year ago pragmatic thought was given to how a variety of launchers could be used for human, cargo, and other launch purposes including ways that mission profiles (DRM 4) usually associated with a HLV could be accomplished in whole or in part by the use of expendable launch vehicles. A more detailed look at what was being reviewed last year can be found at "Human Exploration Framework Team Presentation Online".

- NASA Studies Show Cheaper Alternatives to SLS, earlier post
- Using Commercial Launchers and Fuel Depots Instead of HLVs", earlier post
- The HLV Cost Information NASA Decided Not To Give To Congress, earlier post

Internal NASA Studies Show Cheaper and Faster Alternatives to Space Launch System

This presentation "Propellant Depot Requirements Study - Status Report - HAT Technical Interchange Meeting - July 21, 2011" is a distilled version of a study buried deep inside of NASA. The study compared and contrasted an SLS/SEP architecture with one based on propellant depots for human lunar and asteroid missions. Not only was the fuel depot mission architecture shown to be less expensive, fitting within expected budgets, it also gets humans beyond low Earth orbit a decade before the SLS architecture could.

Moreover, supposed constraints on the availability of commercial launch alternatives often mentioned by SLS proponents, was debunked. In addition, clear integration and performance advantages to the use of commercial launchers Vs SLS was repeatedly touted as being desirable: "breaking costs into smaller, less-monolithic amounts allows great flexibility in meeting smaller and changing budget profiles."

- Using Commercial Launchers and Fuel Depots Instead of HLVs" (March 2011), earlier post
- The HLV Cost Information NASA Decided Not To Give To Congress (January 2011), earlier post

- Discuss this post at the new SpaceRef Forum


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

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