This makes me a *little* happier about the SLS

NASAspaceflight posted an article about the human spaceflight “exploration roadmap” using the Senate Space Launch System rocket. It makes me feel a bit better about the SLS situation.

I’m glad to see that the roadmap revolves around interplanetary vehicles assembled in space, and I’m glad to see that there’s some careful thought here about how to move the human presence throughout the Solar System in a more sustainable way than flags-and-footprints missions. Still, I’m not convinced that the SLS is an efficient or effective way to do that compared with, say, a cluster of Falcon launches. Remember: the SLS is not going to be up to its peak design payload capacity until 2020 2030, and it will likely fly once a year, which doesn’t bode well for the parts of this roadmap that call for a “fleet of SLS” launches.

The best apart about this article is that it demonstrates that NASA is still thinking about how it can achieve human spaceflight capabilities – regardless of what a petulant Congress insists on.

2 thoughts on “This makes me a *little* happier about the SLS”

  1. The thought of a Saturn 5 type rocket is awesome but the cost of the SLS ($41 billion by the time it is all said and done) is a waste. Congress has mandated this to keep old Shuttle jobs around but we could do a lot of other things with 41 billion. Also the heavy lift is not going to be ready until 2030. The Spacex Falcon 9 can do the job for a lot less and a lot sooner. Either way SLS or Falcon it will be great to get back into something other than low earth orbit again,,,just wish it was sooner.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. The Congressionally mandated SLS is very likely a sub-optimal architecture for the space program when compared to, say, commercial launches to establish a fuel depot and fleet of interplanetary vehicles in orbit. Worse, the SLS will likely have a similar effect on the NASA budget to Constellation and JWST – eating up funding that could otherwise go towards planetary exploration or R&D on the technologies we’ll need for true exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

      You are quite right about the 2030 estimate. Thanks.

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