SLS and Orion: August 2018 Archives

NASA boss Bridenstine '100 percent' behind SLS and Alabama center. AL.com

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday that he supports "100 percent" the agency's Space Launch System program and the future of Alabama's Marshall Space Flight Center. Bridenstine spoke to reporters in historic Marshall Building 4619 while taking his first tour of NASA's propulsion center in Huntsville since the Senate confirmed him as administrator in late April."

How can NASA return to the Moon? By making everything reusable, chief says, Ars Technica

"But if we can take advantage of commercial industry that can develop a reusable rocket, we want them to be successful," he said after Geyer was done speaking. "We want to partner with companies that are willing to step up and take that challenge. It is not an 'either/or.' Right now, our best, closest capability is going to be SLS and Orion, but if 10 years from now, 20 years from now, there's a commercial capability that's successful, we're going to use it. And we want them to be successful. In fact, we're partnering with those companies today on commercial crew and other things."

Keith's note: When you are playing a home game you praise the home team. Curiously, when Bridenstine is not attending a home game he is much more willing to talk about other ways to send things into space than SLS - as was the case recently at JSC. According to sources present, Bridenstine all but cut off JSC director Mark Geyer as he gushed about SLS. Instead Bridenstine, as quoted in the article above, made a point of suggesting that SLS is not the only answer.

What is really interesting is his comment "... if 10 years from now, 20 years from now". Take a look at NASA's various notional cartoons about how it wants to do the Moon/Mars thing. Their plans stretch into the 2030s. That certainly falls in the 10-20 year future time frame. So ... that would seem to imply that Bridenstine is willing to consider alternatives to using SLS for Moon/Mars. Up until now to suggest such a thing would have been heresy. Now, it depends on what Zip Code the press briefing is being held in.

Bridenstine may be 100% supportive of SLS - but exactly what that means is open to speculation. One thing is for certain: he may sip the SLS Koolaid but he's not drinking it.

Bridenstine May Not Be Drinking That SLS Koolaid, earlier Post

How can NASA return to the Moon? By making everything reusable, chief says, Ars Technica

"However, the big rocket NASA has been developing since 2011, the Space Launch System, is entirely expendable. It will cost $1 to $2 billion per launch, in comparison to much less expensive (and moderately less capable) commercial vehicles. A senior NASA official sitting at the table, Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer, responded, "It's a good question about the rocket." What the SLS brings, he said, is an enormous Delta V capability that, combined with Orion's tug capacity, was necessary to build the Deep Space Gateway. "Energy is a key part," Geyer said. "So it's a big rocket, with a large size. To date, that's not something we've been able to reuse." Bridenstine, however, would not be deterred from his interest in the potential of commercial companies to drive down the cost of spaceflight."

Keith's note: Instead of making Bridenstine available in a forum where space media from around the country can ask Bridenstine questions about broad areas of NASA policy, NASA PAO limits his access to small groups of media. While Bridenstine is rather open and engaging in these settings, this does limit the ability of the news media around the country to ask Bridenstine questions on a regular basis. And important news tends to dribble out instead. Of course, there is a simple solution invented back in the Apollo days - but apparently NASA does not have enough speakerphones to go around right now.

As for Bridenstine's comments on SLS, it should not go unnoticed that he does not reflexively hop on the SLS propaganda bandwagon as being the answer to all things that NASA may want to be doing in space - forever. Let's see how this stance evolves as SLS delays and costs continue to mount while private sector solutions - even if they are delayed - start to eat SLS's lunch when it comes to cost per unit weight of cargo launched.


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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from August 2018.

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