SLS and Orion: May 2020 Archives

Aerojet Rocketdyne defends SLS engine contract costs, Space News

"Maser declined to give the cost of an individual engine alone, without the additional labor and overhead. "There's a lot of other activity included in there that is well beyond just assembling and testing engines," he said. The $40 million cost estimate widely cited for the SSME does not have a date attached. If it comes from 2000, around the time the Block 2 SSME design was in production, that $40 million would be about $64 million in 2020 dollars, using NASA's New Start Inflation Index. If it comes from 1980, just before the shuttle started operations, it would be nearly $150 million in 2020 dollars. While not providing a specific cost for an RS-25, the contract includes an estimated 30% reduction in the cost per engine when compared to the SSME, which he said would be phased in over the course of the production contract."

Keith's note: On one hand Aerojet wants you to think that they are doing everyone a favor by cutting the cost of their RS-25 engines - yet on the other hand they refuse to tell you how much each engine costs. Caveat emptor

- Only NASA Would Spend Billions To Make A Reusable Engine Disposable, earlier post

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 is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from May 2020.

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