Author Topic: SLS EM-1 & -2 launch dates realign; EM-3 gains notional mission outline  (Read 18799 times)

Offline AncientU

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EM-1 now targeting No Earlier Than 15 December 2019

Wasn't it last supposed to fly in "late 2018"? The additional delay is 1 year, this is quite a lot.

No.  As the article states, after the LH2 tank issues, NASA announced back in May that EM-1 was slipping to "sometime in 2019."

This is the first concrete date in 2019 that's been released.  So this is the full impact of "the slip to 2019" as announced earlier this year.

We knew it was slipping to 2019, but not when in 2019. This is... rather late into the year.

From our article in May about the slip to 2019:

"While GSDO and the Orion/EMS issues have a good chance of being resolved in time for the newly realigned Q4 2019 launch target, the Core Stage might be a different story."

This was always late 2019.  No we have a first target date.

EDIT:  My fault for not including the "Q4 2019" reference again in today's article.  I've updated the article accordingly.

Typically, dates on NASA milestone schedules that are listed as TBR -- to be reviewed -- are dates that are slipping later, but not known yet how much later.  Delivery of the core stage to KSC is listed in your article as June 2019, but TBR.  Both this in-question date and the NET end of the year make the schedule look like it was politically necessary to say '2019' instead of 2020.

One critical item is the amount of schedule reserve that is available to hold the line on December 15, 2019.  Was that number tossed around in your discussions at MAF or elsewhere?  Seems that it should be six months based on difficulty of this phase and track record to date... if end of 2019 is to be believed.
« Last Edit: 09/23/2017 12:06 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Paul Smith

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Great article and let's not miss the fact their have REDUCED the gap between EM-1 and EM-2. No small feat with the first crewed launch and EUS.

Offline CitabriaFlyer

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This was a great article and I appreciate the update.

SLS can potentially let us do some worthwhile things in the 2020s (Europa Clipper and lunar gateway) that cannot be done otherwise in that time frame.  I am the biggest SpaceX fan there is but that does not mean I do not want SLS to succeed.  In fact establishing an outpost around the moon with SLS provides one more market for space transportation companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin to serve. 

I think SLS is ultimately a costly dead end; however, it may prove to be a critical bridge until we get what we really need to open the space frontier - reusable super heavy lift.

As for delays shuttle was supposed to fly in 1977.  Launched in 1981 and did not approach an operational cadence until 1984-85.  ISS was announced in 1984 and supposed to fly in 1994 but did not fly with crew until 2000.  Building these complex systems is not easy.

Offline AncientU

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Thanks for the great article!  Its a pity the usual crowd is ready to attack the program over every little thing every time its so much as mentioned!   ::)

It is disingenuous for someone as creative as you, Nathan, to dismiss this slip as 'every little thing.'
Is there nothing that wouldn't get your full acceptance in this program?

'The usual crowd' as you call us* was apparently on the money all this time while Bolden et al continued to chant 2018 and #JourneytoMars -- both are now in the dust bin.

* I am a proud member of this group because I believe an organization as well staffed with professionals as is NASA should have its programs evaluated on their merit, not on their political backing.
« Last Edit: 09/23/2017 12:35 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Hauerg

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If they continue at that pace they might as well plan a rendezvous with mini ITS for their first mission.

Offline Proponent

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According to the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, SLS and CEV (now Orion) were supposed to be capable of supporting human missions beyond LEO by 2016.  The Act was signed in October 2010, or 6 years and 2 months before the end of CY 2016.

Regarding SLS, paragraph 302(c)(2) of the Act states
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The Space Launch System shall be designed from inception as a fully-integrated vehicle capable of carrying a total payload of 130 tons or more into low-Earth orbit in preparation for transit for missions beyond low-Earth orbit. The Space Launch System shall, to the extent practicable, incorporate capabilities for evolutionary growth to carry heavier payloads. Developmental work and testing of the core elements and the upper stage should proceed in parallel subject to appropriations. Priority should be placed on the core elements with the goal for operational capability for the core elements not later than December 31, 2016.

As to Orion, paragraph 303(a)(2) stipulates
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It shall be the goal to achieve full operational capability for the transportation vehicle developed pursuant to this subsection by not later than December 31, 2016. For purposes of meeting such goal, the Administrator may undertake a test of the transportation vehicle at the ISS before that date.

Hence, my read is that Orion/SLS is (or rather, was) supposed to be operational only to LEO by the end of 2016.

Offline edkyle99

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If SLS (and Orion) wasnt hogging so much money people wouldnt object to SLS as much...
Orion and SLS development together are costing perhaps $4 billion per year as I understand things.  STS cost that much per year during some periods just to fly.  By the way, Orion is costing more than SLS to develop, according to GAO. 

Once developed, NASA plans for an annual budget of something like $1.5 to $2.0 billion, nearly half of the STS budget.  That sounds like a bargain to me. 

 - Ed Kyle   

Offline redliox

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Great article and let's not miss the fact their have REDUCED the gap between EM-1 and EM-2. No small feat with the first crewed launch and EUS.
This was a great article and I appreciate the update.

SLS can potentially let us do some worthwhile things in the 2020s (Europa Clipper and lunar gateway) that cannot be done otherwise in that time frame.

It is nice to hear about the details of the first 3 Orion missions coming to fruition, but I'm frankly more interested in Europa Clipper and the EUS' debut.  Is it still going to happen between the EM-1 and EM-2?
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Offline Rocket Science

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Thanks for the great update Chris G and to Nathan for the "eye candy"! :)
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Offline Endeavour_01

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True, but it isn't really a surprise given the issues Chris. G mentions in the article as well as the tornado that hit Michoud in February.

Sure getting a lot of mileage out of that tornado...

I think these are the kinds of comments Nathan is talking about. Of course they should "get a lot of mileage" out of this. A flipping tornado hit the main production facility. If a tornado or earthquake seriously damaged Hawthorne or Decatur I would be more than understanding if their schedule slipped.

Thank goodness SpaceX has access to 39A since LC-40 has been offline for over a year after Amos 6. If LC-40 had been their only East Coast pad the launch schedule would have suffered much more. I hate delays as much as the next guy but the vast majority of the workers at NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Blue Origin, etc. are doing good work on a very hard job. Let's try to cut them some slack.

Also as I stated in my comment the tornado is not responsible for the whole delay. Unfortunate accidents and mishaps have played a large part in the delays we are seeing. At least NASA has a plan to deal with them and get SLS back on track.

Thanks for the great article!  Its a pity the usual crowd is ready to attack the program over every little thing every time its so much as mentioned!   ::)

It is disingenuous for someone as creative as you, Nathan, to dismiss this slip as 'every little thing.'
Is there nothing that wouldn't get your full acceptance in this program?

Is there nothing that would even get tacit acceptance from you? I am convinced that even if we landed humans on Mars using only SLS/Orion (+ hab and lander) the anti-SLS/Orion crowd would say it wasn't worth it and it could have been done better using x,y, and z. I believe the phrase, "Perfect is the enemy of good enough" comes into play here.

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'The usual crowd' as you call us* was apparently on the money all this time while Bolden et al continued to chant 2018 and #JourneytoMars -- both are now in the dust bin.

I don't think anyone, including SLS fans like myself, took #JourneytoMars seriously*. There was no serious mandate from the administration to do much of anything BEO. That might be changing with DSG and the new NASA leadership.

As for the date I admit to being overly optimistic. I also predicted that Falcon Heavy would fly last year so my optimism isn't limited to SLS.  :) 

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* I am a proud member of this group because I believe an organization as well staffed with professionals as is NASA should have its programs evaluated on their merit, not on their political backing.

In a perfect world that would be the case, but this is not a perfect world. NASA is funded by the federal government so politics will always play some role. Personally I believe SLS/Orion have merit as well as political support.

As for "being a proud member of this group" I am a proud member of the "all of the above" group. Sometimes it seems that some people would rather be "right" than see humans explore BLEO.

*Note that there have been some great Mars mission ideas from JPL and others under the "Journey to Mars" umbrella. What was not taken seriously was the administration's desire to implement these mission plans.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Sure getting a lot of mileage out of that tornado...

I think these are the kinds of comments Nathan is talking about. Of course they should "get a lot of mileage" out of this. A flipping tornado hit the main production facility. If a tornado or earthquake seriously damaged Hawthorne or Decatur I would be more than understanding if their schedule slipped.

The facility is huge and tornados cause very localized damage.  Obviously, the whole facility wasn't wiped out.  It's legitimate to question how much of an impact it actually had.  Being righteously indignant when someone questions that is not helpful.  It doesn't make you look reasonable.

How about countering with specific information on exactly what was damaged and how exactly that affected the SLS program?  Then we can debate what a reasonable schedule impact from that could be.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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If SLS (and Orion) wasnt hogging so much money people wouldnt object to SLS as much...
Orion and SLS development together are costing perhaps $4 billion per year as I understand things.  STS cost that much per year during some periods just to fly.  By the way, Orion is costing more than SLS to develop, according to GAO. 

Once developed, NASA plans for an annual budget of something like $1.5 to $2.0 billion, nearly half of the STS budget.  That sounds like a bargain to me. 

$1.5 to $2.0 billion a year to provide nothing that is actually needed that couldn't have been done much more cheaply in other ways is no bargain.

Offline Endeavour_01

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How about countering with specific information on exactly what was damaged and how exactly that affected the SLS program?  Then we can debate what a reasonable schedule impact from that could be.

Here is some information on specific damage.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/05/maf-push-sls-full-thrust/

From what I can recall it was stated at that NAC meeting that the tornado caused at least a couple of months of schedule disruption.
« Last Edit: 09/23/2017 04:38 PM by Endeavour_01 »
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline Endeavour_01

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$1.5 to $2.0 billion a year to provide nothing that is actually needed that couldn't have been done much more cheaply in other ways is no bargain.

I guess ISS hasn't been worth it then since it could have been assembled more cheaply some other way.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline meberbs

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If SLS (and Orion) wasnt hogging so much money people wouldnt object to SLS as much...
Orion and SLS development together are costing perhaps $4 billion per year as I understand things.  STS cost that much per year during some periods just to fly.  By the way, Orion is costing more than SLS to develop, according to GAO. 

Once developed, NASA plans for an annual budget of something like $1.5 to $2.0 billion, nearly half of the STS budget.  That sounds like a bargain to me. 

 - Ed Kyle   
I tried to point out that this shouldn't be the thread to argue such things, but it seems that ship has sailed.

STS flew 135 times in 30 years. 4.5 times per year. SLS can at most fly twice per year. How is nearly half the cost for clearly less than half the flight rate a "bargain"? (Yes you could add in other factors, like mass, destination, etc, but then to do a fair comparison, you would have to look at things that have somewhat comparable capabilities, like New Glenn, ITSy, or Saturn V.) Point is your way of stating the "bargain" is incredibly misleading.

Thanks for the great article!  Its a pity the usual crowd is ready to attack the program over every little thing every time its so much as mentioned!   ::)

It is disingenuous for someone as creative as you, Nathan, to dismiss this slip as 'every little thing.'
Is there nothing that wouldn't get your full acceptance in this program?

Is there nothing that would even get tacit acceptance from you?
There is already a thread that asks that exact question (in both directions). It is in space policy, so I think that is a sign here is the wrong place for this discussion.

Offline Endeavour_01

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There is already a thread that asks that exact question (in both directions). It is in space policy, so I think that is a sign here is the wrong place for this discussion.

Agreed.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline edkyle99

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If SLS (and Orion) wasnt hogging so much money people wouldnt object to SLS as much...
Orion and SLS development together are costing perhaps $4 billion per year as I understand things.  STS cost that much per year during some periods just to fly.  By the way, Orion is costing more than SLS to develop, according to GAO. 

Once developed, NASA plans for an annual budget of something like $1.5 to $2.0 billion, nearly half of the STS budget.  That sounds like a bargain to me. 

$1.5 to $2.0 billion a year to provide nothing that is actually needed that couldn't have been done much more cheaply in other ways is no bargain.

One SLS Block 1B launch is the equivalent of 13 Falcon 9 launches (recoverable first stage mode) in deep space capability.  That is $800 million plus right there just for the launches, assuming the number on the SpaceX web site holds.  To that, add the payloads, which would likely cost at least as much, and the complexity, which would have its own cost.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline okan170

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I think these are the kinds of comments Nathan is talking about. Of course they should "get a lot of mileage" out of this. A flipping tornado hit the main production facility. If a tornado or earthquake seriously damaged Hawthorne or Decatur I would be more than understanding if their schedule slipped.

...

"Perfect is the enemy of good enough"

Yes this is what I'm referring to.  Continuing to attack a program well beyond the point of doing more damage than good.  Its going to be a rocket we have- we can always do better, but for the amount of international interest in DSG, institutional support for SLS and Orion- we should make the best of it.

As for my full support of the program- its the funded NASA HSF program of record right now.  Its miles away better than what we had for that purpose and as a proponent of BEO spaceflight I think it will allow us to set a baseline that we can build on for the future.

As far as I'm concerned, everything else is gravy.  We can work to build off each other's work and reach out into the solar system, or we can work against each other and wind up right back where we started- arguing about the future while stuck in LEO. 

I won't mention this any more in this thread.
« Last Edit: 09/23/2017 07:53 PM by okan170 »

Online jabe

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One SLS Block 1B launch is the equivalent of 13 Falcon 9 launches (recoverable first stage mode) in deep space capability.  That is $800 million plus right there just for the launches, assuming the number on the SpaceX web site holds.  To that, add the payloads, which would likely cost at least as much, and the complexity, which would have its own cost.

 - Ed Kyle
If FH works that # should change a lot!  SLS gets a boost of it fails..so lots riding on FH.
jb

Offline Star One

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In response to this article is this tweet.

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Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
NASA HQ public affairs says they’ll have an official update to the planned EM-1 launch date next month.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/911362477354450944
« Last Edit: 09/23/2017 08:07 PM by Star One »

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