- NASA Watch
- February 9, 2023
NASA OIG: The SLS Mobile Launcher Program Has Big Problems
NASA OIG: Audit of NASA’s Development of Its Mobile Launchers
“NASA has greatly exceeded its cost and schedule targets in developing ML-1. As of January 2020, modification of ML-1 to accommodate the SLS has cost $693 million–$308 million more than the Agency’s March 2014 budget estimate–and is running more than 3 years behind schedule.
Looking ahead, the project faces a risk of further cost increases and schedule slippage as ML-1 completes testing for Artemis I and undergoes modifications for Artemis II. The Agency’s acquisition approach for ML-1, which lacked coordination and competition with design contractors, coupled with immature SLS requirements resulted in design errors and integration challenges that drove the project’s cost increases and schedule delays.
Specifically, the ML-1 project experienced numerous design errors during the outfitting of the tower that resulted in cabling and structural conflicts, equipment that did not work as intended, and issues with fabrication of the connections known as umbilicals that provide power, communications, oxygen, and fuel. NASA exacerbated these issues by accepting unproven and untested designs from one of the project’s contractors. Additionally, immature SLS requirements resulted in integration challenges that also contributed to increased costs and caused schedule delays. As a result of these issues, NASA incurred substantial unplanned costs for a system the Agency currently plans to use for three or four missions.”
Someone, please lead Senator Shelby to an assisted living situation so that sane people can shoot SLS in the head.
This should be a straight forward exercise in structural/architectural/civil engineering. My God why can’t they get this right?
Pull the plug on this thing already….
Now, Now, This is NASA remember. They have to do it the NASA way. How do you generate pork if there is no cost over run?
Meanwhile when SpaceX needed a crawler last year they had a bit more pragmatic approach – the SpaceX way…
SpaceX’s Starship prototype moved to launch pad on new rocket transporter
By Eric Ralph
Posted on March 9, 2019
“That work reached a peak on March 8th when the massive Starhopper was transported from build site to launch pad on a brand new transporter that was delivered and assembled barely 48 hours prior.”
“Keeping in the practice of dramatically lowering costs by prioritizing consumer off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware solutions wherever possible, SpaceX has purchased or leased a quartet of (likely used) crawlers for the purpose of transporting Starship between the company’s South Texas build, launch, and landing sites. Built by a European conglomerate known TII Group and owned by US-based Roll Group, SpaceX’s four crawlers – coupled to form a duo of larger crawlers – should be more than capable of transporting anywhere from 500t to 1000t or more, easily supporting Starhopper and/or Starships and Super Heavy boosters.
Rather than spending huge amounts of money to develop or contract out a custom-designed crawler or transporter solution for BFR, SpaceX appears to have simply purchased off-the-shelf hardware and affixed them with heavy steel structures capable of securing and supporting Starhopper during transport. Within 24 hours of the crawler arrivals, those beams were installed and the transporter had been moved underneath Starhopper and attached to it before quite literally jacking the massive ship off the ground, allowing technicians to weld additional structures to the tips of its three legs.”
They have been using them ever since… And I bet they cost a lot less that the $693 million NASA spent.
Space X has a liquid vehicle that is transported unfueled. Right or wrong, SLS uses two solid propellant boosters that must be transported fully loaded. That makes a BIG difference in the ability to use commercial items or not.
Yes, another reason SRBs are not a good choice for space launch. The environment damage associated with the SRB’s, including fish kills, is another.
And by re-using SRB technology, no way this thing should cost so much. Imagine if they did something new like SpaceX did?
honest question.. where does the money actually go? all of it can’t be used JUST to build it.. side projects? off shore accounts? I SOO hate SLS and this just adds to it 🙂
The money all goes to American companies, for sure. You shouldn’t hate SLS, it is just a result of the American system of governance.
but I want a vibrant space economy not a jobs program. sigh
If SpaceX had the money that NASA has spent on SLS, they’d probably be ready to launch astronauts to Mars by now.
No they wouldn’t.
Yes too much tends to undermine the type of creativity which has driven SpaceX success.