Author Topic: SLS EM-1 & -2 launch dates realign; EM-3 gains notional mission outline  (Read 11889 times)

Offline Lars-J

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If SLS (and Orion) wasnt hogging so much money people wouldnt object to SLS as much...

You mean the money that would then leave the space program budget if SLS/Orion weren't around and be spent on goodness knows what?  ;)

Stop spreading that FUD. A glance at the NASA budget for the last few decades proves that this is wrong. Programs come and go, yet the budget remains remarkably steady. So if anything any money released would with a very high degree of likelihood be spent on other space projects. If this other spending would be worse or better, who knows...
« Last Edit: 09/23/2017 10:45 PM by Lars-J »

Offline Endeavour_01

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You mean the money that would then leave the space program budget if SLS/Orion weren't around and be spent on goodness knows what?  ;)

Stop spreading that FUD. A glance at the NASA budget for the last few decades proves that this is wrong. Programs come and go, yet the budget remains remarkably steady. So if anything any money released would with a very high degree of likelihood be spent on other space projects. If this other spending would be worse or better, who knows...

Actually if you look at the NASA budget the agency has lost around $6 Billion (2014 dollars) since 1991. Major human spaceflight programs like the space shuttle and Constellation may come and go but they are replaced with programs like SLS/Orion. Just look at what happened in 2010. There is no guarantee that if SLS/Orion were canceled their funds would go to your preferred space project. That isn't "fear mongering." That's a fact.
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 okan170

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You mean the money that would then leave the space program budget if SLS/Orion weren't around and be spent on goodness knows what?  ;)

Stop spreading that FUD. A glance at the NASA budget for the last few decades proves that this is wrong. Programs come and go, yet the budget remains remarkably steady. So if anything any money released would with a very high degree of likelihood be spent on other space projects. If this other spending would be worse or better, who knows...

Actually if you look at the NASA budget the agency has lost around $6 Billion (2014 dollars) since 1991. Major human spaceflight programs like the space shuttle and Constellation may come and go but they are replaced with programs like SLS/Orion. Just look at what happened in 2010. There is no guarantee that if SLS/Orion were canceled their funds would go to your preferred space project. That isn't "fear mongering." That's a fact.

Redirecting it would also require convincing almost all of congress to vote for spending elsewhere which would be a very... interesting challenge.  Oh and closeout costs as well.
« Last Edit: 09/23/2017 11:42 PM by okan170 »

Offline Khadgars

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If SLS (and Orion) wasnt hogging so much money people wouldnt object to SLS as much...

You mean the money that would then leave the space program budget if SLS/Orion weren't around and be spent on goodness knows what?  ;)

Stop spreading that FUD. A glance at the NASA budget for the last few decades proves that this is wrong. Programs come and go, yet the budget remains remarkably steady. So if anything any money released would with a very high degree of likelihood be spent on other space projects. If this other spending would be worse or better, who knows...

Offline Khadgars

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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!   ::)

Couldn't agree more.  I'm fine with discourse, but its been ridiculous now for years.

Offline DreamyPickle

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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.

Exploration architectures using Falcon or other vehicles are arguably off-topic but you can definitely do better than claim 1 SLS = 13 Falcon.

First of all if you do orbital assembly it makes sense to place the payload LEO and then use space tugs. The DSG propulsion element could be adapted to ferry modules from LEO to NRHO and this would take advantage of the Falcon 9's ~20 tons to LEO. But really it's the Falcon Heavy that should be considered instead because it will fly several times before SLS EM-1. The New Glenn might also become available before SLS 1B.

Looking at the current schedule for SLS the missions don't even take full advantage of it's capability. Instead you see flights that consist of Orion paired up with a very small (<10 tons) DSG module. You could do better using 2x Falcon Heavy or New Glenn flights.

The fact that NASA is planning to do "space construction" similar to the Shuttle program is absolutely insane. If you look at Russian station modules they were launched unmanned and either used a modified Progress or had their own propulsion for docking. This is much better because it uses the full capacity of the launcher. SLS should do more cargo missions!

Offline UltraViolet9

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

Point taken. 

But whether to LEO or BEO, Orion cannot support a crew until EM-2. 

And since Orion doesn't achieve that "full operational capability" until EM-2, the schedule figures remain unchanged.

FWIW... YMMV

Offline Lars-J

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You mean the money that would then leave the space program budget if SLS/Orion weren't around and be spent on goodness knows what?  ;)

Stop spreading that FUD. A glance at the NASA budget for the last few decades proves that this is wrong. Programs come and go, yet the budget remains remarkably steady. So if anything any money released would with a very high degree of likelihood be spent on other space projects. If this other spending would be worse or better, who knows...

Actually if you look at the NASA budget the agency has lost around $6 Billion (2014 dollars) since 1991. Major human spaceflight programs like the space shuttle and Constellation may come and go but they are replaced with programs like SLS/Orion.

...which underscores my point! There has been a slow and steady decline since 1991 (the prime days of the Shuttle program) until now, and the in that time Shuttle disappeared, ISS came, CxP came and went, SLS appeared. Are you seeing the trend here?

Just look at what happened in 2010. There is no guarantee that if SLS/Orion were canceled their funds would go to your preferred space project. That isn't "fear mongering." That's a fact.

What happened in 2010 supports my point. The funds for NASA programs did not go away, despite the fear mongering here and elsewhere.

Of course there is no guarantee for what will happen in the future. But the past history supports my claim, and not your fear mongering. I assume you understand that Congress has no specific attachment to specific programs, only that they bring jobs to their district. If anything else can do that, they will all jump on it in a heartbeat.

And no, I don't expect a replacement program (*IF* SLS is cancelled) to be any more efficient. This is the nature of the beast.

Online woods170

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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
Ah yes. I was waiting for that argument to rear it's ugly head.

Tell me Ed: what 40 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to the Moon? Answer: none
What 33 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to Mars? Answer: none.

Two points why your post is poor in quality:
1. Falcon Heavy is not intented for launching (pieces of) a deep space architecture. Thus, the comparison tot SLS block 1B is apples-to-oranges.
2. SLS will launch, at best, pieces of a deep space architecture in co-manifest mode. Because no single item of the developing deep space architecture warrants the need of SLS Block 1B capacity, on it's own. Simply put: a less powerful launcher could do the job just as well and have the virtue of having to fly more often to get the job done. Thus preventing the huge financial waste of having a standing army for a launcher that, on average, flies only once a year.

Online A_M_Swallow

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{snip}
What happened in 2010 supports my point. The funds for NASA programs did not go away, despite the fear mongering here and elsewhere.

Of course there is no guarantee for what will happen in the future. But the past history supports my claim, and not your fear mongering. I assume you understand that Congress has no specific attachment to specific programs, only that they bring jobs to their district. If anything else can do that, they will all jump on it in a heartbeat.

And no, I don't expect a replacement program (*IF* SLS is cancelled) to be any more efficient. This is the nature of the beast.

Which states are the DSG, Mars Transport and the Moon base's federal habitat being built in?

Offline TrevorMonty

The manned EM2 flight is far more important than EM1, as long as EM1 delays don't effect EM2 I don't care when EM1 flys.

For those criticizing schedule slippages, this is a large space project, slippages and going over budget a the norm not exception. If you can't accept that then an interest in spaceflight is not for you.

Offline meberbs

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The manned EM2 flight is far more important than EM1, as long as EM1 delays don't effect EM2 I don't care when EM1 flys.

For those criticizing schedule slippages, this is a large space project, slippages and going over budget a the norm not exception. If you can't accept that then an interest in spaceflight is not for you.
EM1 slips directly lead to EM2 slips as this new schedule shows. This is largely due to needs to update a lot of GSE between Block1A and Block1B. As it is the current schedule shows 2.5 years between these flights which is better than the 3 years that I had seen reported previously. Hopefully this is due to them having found a way to compress the GSE schedule, I always had thought 3 years was a bit much.

On the other hand, previous reporting indicated that Europa Clipper would launch before EM-2, and this seems like it should be required for safety (no crew on first launch of EUS), but it does not appear to be accounted for in this schedule.

Again, I think skipping Block1A would help all of this, since it should induce minimal if any delay in EM-2, and maybe even have EM-2 faster, since EM-1 would then cover the first launch of EUS, and Europa Clipper could come either before or after EM-2 depending on schedule. Main question is the EUS schedule, and if that would limit when EM-1 on block 1B could happen. Since EUS has not seemed to be the driving force on the EM-2 schedule, I don't have enough information to be sure when an EM-1 on Block1B could launch.

Offline Endeavour_01

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...which underscores my point! There has been a slow and steady decline since 1991 (the prime days of the Shuttle program) until now, and the in that time Shuttle disappeared, ISS came, CxP came and went, SLS appeared. Are you seeing the trend here?

Yes I see the trend. Apparently you don't. When Shuttle was retired the funding went into a shuttle derived SHLV (SLS). If SLS hadn't been approved that funding would have likely left NASA. 

Quote
Of course there is no guarantee for what will happen in the future. But the past history supports my claim, and not your fear mongering.

<snip>

And no, I don't expect a replacement program (*IF* SLS is cancelled) to be any more efficient. This is the nature of the beast.

Then there is no point in canceling SLS. All we will gain is lost time and effort. My point was that if there is no similar replacement program then more than likely the funds will flow elsewhere. Usually when someone argues "SLS/Orion cost too much" they advocate that the funding be sent to dissimilar efforts.

The fact remains that if SLS/Orion are canceled and are replaced with something dissimilar there is much less incentive for the providers of that funding (Congress) to keep it within the space program budget.
« Last Edit: 09/24/2017 06:38 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 clongton

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Thanks for the article Chris, but I don't understand:

Quote
Following RS-25 engine delivery to MAF, teams will spend seven months integrating the engines into the MPS (Main Propulsion System) of the Core Stage...

Why so much time? It shouldn't take 7 months to integrate 4 identical engines.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline edkyle99

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Tell me Ed: what 40 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to the Moon? Answer: none
What 33 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to Mars? Answer: none.
Orion will weigh 25 tonnes or more.  Nothing but SLS could boost that mass trans-Lunar.  Certainly nothing but SLS could boost Orion plus PPE or DSG at the same time, which is the current plan.  Those missions will accelerate 33-35 tonnes of "revenue payload" beyond LEO all at once.

 - Ed Kyle

Online A_M_Swallow

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Tell me Ed: what 40 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to the Moon? Answer: none
What 33 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to Mars? Answer: none.
Orion will weigh 25 tonnes or more.  Nothing but SLS could boost that mass trans-Lunar.  Certainly nothing but SLS could boost Orion plus PPE or DSG at the same time, which is the current plan.  Those missions will accelerate 33-35 tonnes of "revenue payload" beyond LEO all at once.

 - Ed Kyle


An empty Bigelow B330 habitat module weights at least 20 tonnes. Adding furniture and an air lock will add several more tonnes. A reusable heavy lander like XEUS will need propellant.

I suspect that the SLS will be used to build the Moon base and deliver its in situ resource utilization (ISRU) machinery.

Online woods170

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Tell me Ed: what 40 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to the Moon? Answer: none
What 33 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to Mars? Answer: none.
Orion will weigh 25 tonnes or more.  Nothing but SLS could boost that mass trans-Lunar.  Certainly nothing but SLS could boost Orion plus PPE or DSG at the same time, which is the current plan.  Those missions will accelerate 33-35 tonnes of "revenue payload" beyond LEO all at once.

 - Ed Kyle

Apart from Orion, no HSF BEO payloads exist right now. Not right now and not for many years to come given that PPE and DSG are only conceptual in nature right now.
Orion was never going to fly on any other launcher than SLS. So, I ask again: why are you comparing BEO payload capacity of FH with BEO payload capacity of SLS? It's apples-to-oranges because those two systems have very different missions. FH missions will be primarily missions in orbit around Earth whereas SLS will be primarily BEO.
A more correct comparison would be to compare SpaceX-BEO system to NASA-BEO system. In other words: compare ITS/BFS against SLS. Than you're apples-to-apples.

Additionally:
As Jim has pointed out several times you don't need ISS-style in-space construction to establish a deep space outpost. Yet, ISS-style construction of a deep space outpost is exactly what NASA is proposing right now. The individual pieces for this don't have enough mass to justify anything remotely as powerful as SLS Block 1B. That's why Orion is co-manifested with those pieces. That leaves outpost construction as the prime job for those co-manifested Orion's. Which is a waste of money given that you rather have those crews do something useful. Like doing science missions.
One would better justify the capabilities of SLS Block 1B by launching a single 40 mT outpost straight to the Moon. So, more like Skylab-style than ISS-style.
And that brings me back to my previous question: what 40 metric ton payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to the Moon? Answer: none.
Combine that with the inefficiency of an ISS-style deep space outpost and the reasons for having SLS Block 1B quickly disappear.
« Last Edit: 09/25/2017 11:26 AM by woods170 »

Online AncientU

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The manned EM2 flight is far more important than EM1, as long as EM1 delays don't effect EM2 I don't care when EM1 flys.

For those criticizing schedule slippages, this is a large space project, slippages and going over budget a the norm not exception. If you can't accept that then an interest in spaceflight is not for you.

The MST cannot be rebuilt for EUS until EM-1 flies.  EM-1 slips are day-for-day slips in EM-2.
You should care.
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Offline hektor

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Apart from Orion, no HSF BEO payloads exist right now. Not right now and not for many years to come given that PPE and DSG are only conceptual in nature right now.

You have to help me there, because you lost me. I thought the DSG modules PPE and HAB are flying on EM-2 and EM-3 respectively ? How can they be only conceptual in nature since metal is being cut right now on EM-2 ?
« Last Edit: 09/25/2017 03:12 PM by hektor »

Offline clongton

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Tell me Ed: what 40 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to the Moon? Answer: none
What 33 metric Ton, single-piece payload is being developed by NASA to be flown to Mars? Answer: none.
Orion will weigh 25 tonnes or more.  Nothing but SLS could boost that mass trans-Lunar.  Certainly nothing but SLS could boost Orion plus PPE or DSG at the same time, which is the current plan.  Those missions will accelerate 33-35 tonnes of "revenue payload" beyond LEO all at once.

 - Ed Kyle

As was correctly pointed out back in the DIRECT days, the CAIB did not recommend that a future Shuttle replacement not carry crew and cargo together. It was recommended that they not be together “in the same vehicle” unless absolutely necessary. Thus Orion carrying crew and stacked on the SLS with separately encapsulated cargo for delivery to BEO is a legitimate use of the vehicle as recommended in the CAIB, just the same as we had proposed back then for the Jupiter Shuttle replacement system. In this way Ed’s postulations are correct.

However I tend to [partially] agree with Wood’s position because if NASA is only going to send crew BEO in Orion, then the flight rate of the SLS would need to be significantly increased - which we all know is not going to happen - ever. No one expects NASA crew to spend 1-1/2 years aboard the DSG or in a lunar surface outpost before being rotated out. So the use of commercially available crew vehicles capable of cis-lunar operations flying and rotating NASA cis-lunar crew is specifically indicated. Which begs the question – Why use Orion at all? If NASA is only going to fly SLS once every 12-18 months or so it will take FOREVER to gain a legitimate safety record for this manned spacecraft. And sense Commercial Crew vehicles will be visiting those same NASA cis-lunar locations to rotate crew anyway,wouldn’t NASA be far better off using Commercial Crew vehicles for ALL its crewed missions and reserving SLS for massive cargo launches - uncrewed? I agree with Woods – make maximum use of the SLS capability by using it to launch Skylab-style stations and outposts. Make them big enough to fully use the SLS capability. Whatever the SLS is capable of delivering to the target location – make the delivered vehicle that size. SLS is going to fly so infrequently because of cost that it is a waste of capability not to max it out every time it flies – and NOT by substituting a hardly ever flown human spacecraft as ballast to justify a too-small cargo delivery.

Fly SLS – if properly utilized it is justified for heavy lift delivery, even if it is infrequently used. But ditch Orion completely. It’ll never be used often enough to ever be declared operational because the only vehicle capable of flying it will hardly ever fly. Use the Commercial Crew capabilities for human delivery that has been so painfully developed over the past few years for ALL crewed flights. Orion is a waste of resources and a huge waste of money - money that could be better utilized in payload development. Ditch Orion but keep SLS. At least SLS can deliver something of value for all its investment. Orion never will.
« Last Edit: 09/25/2017 01:59 PM by clongton »
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