Poll

September 2027: will either, neither or both SpaceX's BFR and NASA's SLS be operational?

SLS will be operational, BFR will not.
BFR will be operational, SLS will not.
Both BFR and SLS will be operational.
Both BFR and SLS will not be operational.

Voting closes: 10/30/2017 05:15 PM


Author Topic: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR  (Read 7411 times)

Offline darkenfast

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10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« on: 09/30/2017 02:50 AM »
September 29th's announcement of the "refined" BFR (commonly referred to as the 9m version, or informally on this forum as the ITSy), has generated a lot of comment in the space-following Internet.  This vessel, if completed, could have an effect on NASA's future, as well as being a huge liability for SpaceX if it was to fail.  So, get out your crystal balls and choose.

The question is pretty simple.  We are looking ten years ahead, to September 2027.  "Operational" means that the rocket is now carrying the type of payload and conducting the type(s) of missions for which it was designed.

This is my first attempt at a poll.  Thanks in advance for participating.  Comments on why you chose your answer are welcome, of course.

Online RonM

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #1 on: 09/30/2017 03:45 AM »
I picked both will be operational because there will be delays before BFR is operational and Congress won't cancel SLS until BFR has a proven flight record. If Congress approves the DSG plan, they'll probably want to keep SLS flying until DSG is complete.

Offline ZachS09

Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #2 on: 09/30/2017 03:47 AM »
I don't see both launch vehicles competing against each other or suffering from development problems that could lead to cancellation.

Instead, the future as I see it involves SLS doing interplanetary missions for the U.S. government while the ITS/BFR does the same albeit for commercial customers.

That's right. Both flying at the same time. Not side by side, mind you.
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Online butters

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #3 on: 09/30/2017 04:02 AM »
SLS won't be cancelled at least until BFS lands crew on Mars. I'll blindly speculate that odds of crew landing in 2024 synod are less than 10%, and crew landing in 2026 synod less than 50% inclusive. I think it's just a bit more likely that the first crew landing will be after the 2027 threshold, probably in the 2029 or 2031 synods.

SLS will probably survive the 2020s. Maybe not too much longer than that.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #4 on: 09/30/2017 04:04 AM »
I voted both operational.  I think NASA will be too far down their path to cancel SLS.  I also think that BFR will just becoming operational.  I think development will take longer that Elon Musk has stated.  BFR will not have had a long enough track record yet to get NASA to Cancel SLS by 2027.

I think there is a good chance that SLS will fade out in the 2030s after maybe a dozen flights.  I think there also is a good chance that by the early 2030s the only US launch providers flying anything EELV class or larger will be SpaceX and Blue Origin.  I think ULA will either dissolve or be sold to Blue Origin.  I think it will be good to have the competition from the two.  The other interesting part of the equation is what will the rest of the world be doing.  Will Russia, Europe, China, Japan,etc try to come up with something reusable?  Or will they settle for buying rides elsewhere?

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #5 on: 09/30/2017 04:10 AM »
Glad to see this poll made. Looking forward to more polls on the new BFR details.

Voted that neither will be operational. SLS will almost certainly be cancelled sometime in the next ten years, and it most certainly SHOULD be cancelled as it is nothing more than a money draining jobs program. Money saved from SLS could go make a huge difference if it were used to build exploration hardware (such as DSG) and NASA simply used a COTS model for launch services for that hardware.

I do not think BFR will be completely operational in terms of its maximum intended use or its intended missions or flight rate within ten years, but I do think there are good chances for a few of them to fly in that time period. I have posted why I am so cynical in this regard in other threads. To keep it short, the main reason is two fold.

1. Technical challenges involved. There is a very high likelyhood spacex is going to discover as they go through the development process for this vehicle, the need to significantly re-design parts of it. This will result in an iteration process similar to F9 development, but due to the size of the vehicle and the expense involved each iteration will probably take longer to produce. 2-3 years for each revision may be on the harsh side but it seems reasonable.

2. Funding. SpaceX has limited funding and is taking a significant and perhaps un-necessary risk by hedging all their bets on this one vehicle and stating they will cancel F9 production. If they are smart and they "stockpile" enough F9 vehicles to absorb unexpected failures and design changes in the BFR program, this may not be an issue. If however they only plan for limited or no margin, they risk losing contracts to competitors which will reduce revenue and put significant pressure on the BFR program.

Real world experience has made me perhaps a bit more cynical than most, so of course I hope I am wrong and they do it successfully, and faster than I think .
« Last Edit: 09/30/2017 04:11 AM by FinalFrontier »
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Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #6 on: 09/30/2017 04:14 AM »
I voted both operational.  I think NASA will be too far down their path to cancel SLS.  I also think that BFR will just becoming operational.  I think development will take longer that Elon Musk has stated.  BFR will not have had a long enough track record yet to get NASA to Cancel SLS by 2027.

I think there is a good chance that SLS will fade out in the 2030s after maybe a dozen flights.  I think there also is a good chance that by the early 2030s the only US launch providers flying anything EELV class or larger will be SpaceX and Blue Origin.  I think ULA will either dissolve or be sold to Blue Origin.  I think it will be good to have the competition from the two.  The other interesting part of the equation is what will the rest of the world be doing.  Will Russia, Europe, China, Japan,etc try to come up with something reusable?  Or will they settle for buying rides elsewhere?

Not sure about re-usability but we must not discount the CZ9 vehicle which may be very far along at this point, at least if the Chinese government is to be believed. So at least in the case of China it seems there will be a vehicle of similar size.
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #7 on: 09/30/2017 04:18 AM »
I voted for the BFR being operational and the SLS not.

Not because of any competition, but because Elon Musk has a business plan that supports building and operating the BFR/ITS in 10 years, but the U.S. Government (i.e. the President and Congress) have yet to propose, agree upon, and fund a reason for the SLS to be operational in 10 years.

At most the BFR/ITS inspires a conversation within Congress that should have happened years ago, but otherwise there is no "SLS vs BFR".
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline redliox

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #8 on: 09/30/2017 04:25 AM »
I believe within 10 years both the SLS and BFR/ITS will be simultaneously operating.  There will likely be further delays to both systems but before '27 we will have seen their first flights.  Once they are operating it will, as much as NASA will decline to admit it, become a performance contest.  It could go either way, but by default SLS is already expected to aim for 2 to 4 flights yearly, so there would be a slight tilt in favor of BFR if SpaceX indeed plans to use it as heavily as planned.

The SLS will eventually phase out, no differently than either Saturns or Titans were.  I won't expect it to run as long as the STS/Shuttle but I'd assume 15 years for a possible lifetime once operating.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #9 on: 09/30/2017 04:30 AM »
I think that by then BFR will more likely than not be flying (though I'm not very confident about it).

Once BFR is flying, it will be able to do everything SLS can do and more for far, far less money.  That will be too much for SLS.  There will be enough of a public outcry about that that people in congress who never cared before will get on the "dump SLS" bandwagon because being anti-SLS will be popular.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #10 on: 09/30/2017 04:52 AM »
It could go either way, but by default SLS is already expected to aim for 2 to 4 flights yearly...

In 2015, the outgoing Boeing SLS Program Manager stated:

Quote
Boeing has Michoud set up to stamp out enough stages for one SLS a year — two at most with the factory’s current manufacturing capabilities, and then only if NASA pours more money and personnel into the facility.

So even getting up to two per year would cost more money - and that can only come from Congress.

Quote
...so there would be a slight tilt in favor of BFR if SpaceX indeed plans to use it as heavily as planned.

Slight? It literally takes an act of Congress to fly an SLS. All SpaceX needs is to gas n' go.
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Offline redliox

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #11 on: 09/30/2017 05:12 AM »
It could go either way, but by default SLS is already expected to aim for 2 to 4 flights yearly...
So even getting up to two per year would cost more money - and that can only come from Congress.

Quote
...so there would be a slight tilt in favor of BFR if SpaceX indeed plans to use it as heavily as planned.

Slight? It literally takes an act of Congress to fly an SLS. All SpaceX needs is to gas n' go.

So implying I was overly generous toward SLS' position?  ;)
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Offline hop

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #12 on: 09/30/2017 05:59 AM »
I voted both, but IMO all the options are very much in play.

If they are both built and BFR proves itself quickly, it could replace SLS by 2027, but lead times for missions on this scale are long enough that my bet is they would still both be flying.

For other outcomes:

SLS could be cancelled irrespective of BFR, there's a lot of election cycles between now and 2027.

On the SpaceX side, a lot of things Elon has made similar presentations about have ended up not being built (remember Falcon 1e? Falcon 5? F9 second stage recovery? Red Dragon?) SpaceX will likely develop some new vehicle by 2027, but it might not look anything like the BFR. To date, most of SpaceX major developments have had an anchor customer, and IMO quite possible they will build something much less ambitious if they don't get any outside commitment for the Moon or Mars.


Online Zed_Noir

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #13 on: 09/30/2017 06:02 AM »
Really don't see the SLS, Orion or DSG surviving if the ITSy (BFS) manages to fly multiple times with a single vehicle among a multi unit fleet. Which I think will happen by 2022.

As for why the DSH will also get axed. Why do you need it when you can outfit an ITSy to do all the tasks required of the DSG. With other ITSy as TDY Lunar  landers.

I also don't see the current ITSy design  in service for too long before being retired. There will be a limited number of ITSy to test out the vehicle's operational capabilities. Followed by a revised and larger ITS design resulting from Cis-Lunar & Areocentric operational experience.

So both the SLS and BFR (current design) will not be operational in 2027


Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #14 on: 09/30/2017 07:06 AM »
I agree with the comment that each of the four options are still possible. Makes for an interesting poll!

In the end I went for BFR yes and SLS no. SLS may die without BFR, as it is too expensive and the only real need it satisfies is job creation. So if BFR succeeds then I think that will be the final nail for SLS. That leaves the question of whether SpaceX will succeed. I’m going to be optimistic and say yes. The lesson I take from the last 10 years is that given enough time (I think 10 more years is enough) SpaceX will get there in the end.

Offline high road

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #15 on: 09/30/2017 09:13 AM »
Ten years is a long time. I went for both still being operational, with a few caveats

- BFR, and certainly the upper stage, will probably look quite different than we expect it to today.
- SLS will still be the reference launch vehicle for NASA missions, but they might not actually be launching every year, due to not getting money to do any missions that require SLS.

Offline spacenut

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #16 on: 09/30/2017 09:25 AM »
I think BFR will be sooner than some think.  Raptor is in the final stages of development.  Tooling from what I understand is already being set up, bending metal could begin as early as next year.  Also, Boca Chica will need completing since it may be the first location to launch one. 

Offline Johnnyhinbos

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #17 on: 09/30/2017 11:46 AM »
I think SLS will be operational in 6 years - and then be canceled before ten years is out. How many SSMEs are available - I forget, but not many.

BFR will be off the ground and running. I may not have said that last year, but if SpaceX truly pivots to this platform and away from F9/FH/D2 and puts the bulk of their fairly considerable development effort into BFR then this beast will definitely be a fairly mature system in a decade.

However I also think we’ll see BO NG and the Chinese CZ9 as the other two heavy contenders. Russia will still be floundering with theirs, as they will be busy trying to get the MLM finished
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Offline su27k

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #18 on: 09/30/2017 12:32 PM »
Chose the option BFR operational, SLS not. We're fortunate to have this site where history is just a button away, so use it to get some historical perspective. For SpaceX, 10 years ago they haven't even reached orbit yet, they were still finding out why the 2nd Falcon 1 flight failed, and Merlin 1C test fire was the great news. For NASA, 10 years ago they were busy building Ares I and Orion (which they still haven't finished btw), but rumors already started about the problems, and we all know how that went.
« Last Edit: 09/30/2017 12:32 PM by su27k »

Offline Lar

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Re: 10 Years From Now: SLS vs BFR
« Reply #19 on: 09/30/2017 01:25 PM »
(fan)
Wanted to vote for choice 2 (SLS not, BFR/S yes) because I would hope that Congress would come to their senses.

Then I thought about Congress for a bit (about 3 seconds) and went with choice 3 (both operational) because I know that wasteful inefficient programs don't get canceled immediately (or ever) so I expect SLS to continue "creating jobs" for quite a while.

PS, I'm happy to see my view is not the predominant one. But I'm old and cynical.

(mod)
This is my first attempt at a poll. 

You did well. The only thing I would have done differently is set for 30, not 90, days, as that is our custom, usually. You can edit to change that if you want.
« Last Edit: 09/30/2017 01:34 PM by Lar »
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Tags: SLS BFR ITS Orion