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Will the US waste $100+ billion on SLS, Orion and LOP-G by 2030?

Posted in Science on 29th Sep, 2018 05:10 PM by Alex Muller

The US could get so much more accomplished in space if they stop wasting money on the Space Launch System, Orion and the Lunar gateway. The US did waste money on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. The Space Shuttle was supposed to demonstrate fast reusability.


The Space shuttle costed more than disposable rockets. The SLS will continue that tradition of costing more for no gain. SLS will cost $2-5 billion per launch versus about $20-100 million for SpaceX Falcon Heavy with 4 boosters or a SpaceX BFR.


NASA is planning a 2023 launch of a Block 1 configuration of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The SLS will circle Earth twice while periodically firing its engines to build up enough speed to push it toward the Moon before looping back to Earth. The SLS will perform a loop around the moon.


NASA Space Launch system is reusing and modifying Shuttle rockets and facilities. SLS and Orion will cost the United States more than $30 billion dollars before it has completed a single full launch. This will go over $40 billion by the time the system is ready to launch NASA astronauts.


$14 billion has been spent on the rockets between 2011 and 2018. This does not include billions more spent refurbishing and modifying aging Saturn and Shuttle-derived launch infrastructure at Kennedy Space Center.


Orion’s development has cost the U.S. about $16 billion since 2006. $4-6 billion more will be spent between now and 2023. This does not include the costs of production and operations once development is complete.


The Orion space capsule is NOT capable of landing on the Moon, much less Mars. The capsule can dock with an intermediate orbiting space station off-planet (the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway). Operating on the moon or Mars with SLS will require a new lander. The Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway is an updated version of the International Space Station. The ISS cost $150 billion to build. The Lunar Orbital Gateway will have fewer modules but will easily cost $40 billion.


Boeing and Lockheed own United Launch Alliance. 20% of revenues for Boeing and Lockheed come from space projects.


SLS got $2.15 billion in the fiscal 2018 budget. The Orion crew capsule got $1.35 billion. A total of $3.5 billion in just 2018. Two more years of increasing funding to try to get to the first unmanned test launch in 2020.


In September 2011, the SLS program gave a development cost to the Senate of $18 billion through 2017, with $10 billion for the SLS rocket, $6 billion for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and $2 billion for upgrades to the launch pad and other facilities at Kennedy Space Center. The original plan was the first unmanned SLS launch in 2017.


The Space Review estimated the cost per launch at $5 billion, depending on the rate of launches.


SpaceX BFR is targeting 2023 for manned lunar orbiting tourist mission
SpaceX is close to completing a new Raptor engine. SpaceX is building parts of the fully reusable SpaceX BFR. Suborbital SpaceX BFR flights will start next year. Unmanned testing will be started before Space Launch System despite development of the BFR starting years after the start of SLS work.

Tags: spacemoonUSANASASLS

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