Author Topic: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?  (Read 1773 times)

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3186
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1568
  • Likes Given: 137
Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« on: 11/09/2017 11:02 PM »
http://spacenews.com/smith-disappointed-with-lack-of-progress-on-sls-and-orion/

Quote
"Congress needs to have confidence in NASA and the exploration systems contractors, which I don’t believe we have now. That confidence is ebbing,” he said. “If it slips much further, NASA and its contractors will have a hard time regaining their credibility.”

It was stipulated that some of the troubles were out of NASA and contractors control, specifically the tornado damage to Michoud. But it also points out some of the problems are self inflicted because of much earlier bad technical/programmatic decisions.

Quote
“NASA and the contractors should not assume future delays and cost overruns will have no consequences,” he said. “If delays continue, if costs rise, and if foreseeable technical challenges arise, no one should assume the U.S. taxpayers or their representatives will tolerate this forever.”

There would be a question here as to whether a slip from the Dec 2019 date is being implied or a slip further out than the June 2020 date?

Quote
“The more setbacks SLS and Orion face, the more support builds for other options,” he said, not elaborating on what those options would be.

With alternatives continued development advancement this erosion of support would become more worrisome for SLS/Orion funding even as earliy as FY2019. Fortunately for SLS/Orion FY2018 is headed for the president's desk.

Going forward into a FY2019 budget. What does this mean for a timely development of EUS which will need more funding? What does this mean for the desire for another Mobile Launch platform (ML-2)? Can such a new item get any funding? And also what could this do to the DSG which has yet to actually get going beyond studies and the details of a short contract for contractors ideas for solutions of what a PPE (power and propulsion module) would look like? No elements have even gotten on contract for a design and build. Plus no real budget exists yet for DSG.

But DSG could outlive SLS/Orion in that it is more likely to be a possible public/private leveraging existing commercial tech and capabilities than in a clean sheet total NASA managed and controlled efforts.

Offline JAFO

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 542
  • Liked: 163
  • Likes Given: 132
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #1 on: 11/09/2017 11:08 PM »
Without this getting too political, if I was NASA I'd be very, very worried. The tax cut they're trying to push through is revenue negative, and they're already looking for anything they can cut or privatize. With so much success in commercial spaceflight, no real mission for SLS, and the schedule continuing to slip right, it's days may be numbered. Maybe not via outright cancellation, but by slow budget starvation.
« Last Edit: 11/10/2017 12:28 AM by JAFO »
Anyone can do the job when things are going right. In this business we play for keeps.
— Ernest K. Gann

Offline rayleighscatter

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 942
  • Maryland
  • Liked: 428
  • Likes Given: 194
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #2 on: 11/10/2017 12:24 AM »
Of course the same article also states
Quote
Other members of the committee expressed few, if any, reservations about the programs at the hearing despite the latest delay.

and
Quote
Smith, who announced Nov. 2 he would not run for reelection next year

So it's also notable that in the House Science Committee the only real detractor of the program is retiring.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3186
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1568
  • Likes Given: 137
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #3 on: 11/10/2017 01:22 AM »
Of course the same article also states
Quote
Other members of the committee expressed few, if any, reservations about the programs at the hearing despite the latest delay.

and
Quote
Smith, who announced Nov. 2 he would not run for reelection next year

So it's also notable that in the House Science Committee the only real detractor of the program is retiring.
But...
Quote
Babin noted the delays but also highlighted the “significant progress” the overall exploration program has made. He offered his own warning, though, to the agency and companies working on the program. “NASA and the contractors have to execute. Failure to do so could have dire consequences for the program, and there will be no one else to blame,” he said.

Rep Babin is not leaving but seems to hold NASA and the contractors with the same warnings as Rep Smith. Although he equivocated the warnings are still there.

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7340
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 3059
  • Likes Given: 899
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #4 on: 11/10/2017 06:49 AM »
Of course the same article also states
Quote
Other members of the committee expressed few, if any, reservations about the programs at the hearing despite the latest delay.

and
Quote
Smith, who announced Nov. 2 he would not run for reelection next year

So it's also notable that in the House Science Committee the only real detractor of the program is retiring.
This. But it has never stopped the gravy train however. Which means that it won't stop SLS and Orion either, regardless of Smith's warning.

As to Smith himself: He would be well advised to go look in a mirror. The trainwreck known as the "Senate Launch System" is of his own doing. Now that he is leaving he is acting like Pontius Pilate: washing his hands in innocence.

Online Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3450
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 2206
  • Likes Given: 2730
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #5 on: 11/10/2017 08:15 PM »
Politicians complaining about how taxpayer money is spent is pretty normal, so I don't see this as any erosion of support for SLS and Orion development. And as others have pointed out, Smith is retiring, so he can finally be honest in his opinions...  :o

But this sure does not help the case for funding payloads and missions that are supposed to use the SLS and Orion, of which there are currently no fully-funded programs that require the SLS and Orion.

More of a data point than a trend I'd say, but worth watching.
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 Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7993
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 2187
  • Likes Given: 5142
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #6 on: 11/10/2017 09:17 PM »
I find myself trying to suppress my laughter after listening to all the SLS "happy talk" during all the committee hearings... Just maddening...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3186
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1568
  • Likes Given: 137
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #7 on: 11/10/2017 11:25 PM »
I find myself trying to suppress my laughter after listening to all the SLS "happy talk" during all the committee hearings... Just maddening...
A good face on bad news...

Unfortunately LV developers look at the optimistic  (aspirational first launch date) rather than the worst case of when there would be significant difficulties along the way during the development. But SLS/Orion is a political animal. It is a directed program rather than a commercial capability competitive buy. The one mitigating item is that until commercial actually shows that the capability is available to book to do the same goals, SLS/Orion will continue its funding. But as also noted new associated projects not yet funded may not fare well in this environment.

Online AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4963
  • Liked: 2964
  • Likes Given: 4184
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #8 on: 11/11/2017 07:05 PM »
I find myself trying to suppress my laughter after listening to all the SLS "happy talk" during all the committee hearings... Just maddening...
A good face on bad news...

Unfortunately LV developers look at the optimistic  (aspirational first launch date) rather than the worst case of when there would be significant difficulties along the way during the development. But SLS/Orion is a political animal. It is a directed program rather than a commercial capability competitive buy. The one mitigating item is that until commercial actually shows that the capability is available to book to do the same goals, SLS/Orion will continue its funding. But as also noted new associated projects not yet funded may not fare well in this environment.

Especially if they are SLS-exclusive, such as DSG modules co-manifested with EM-2, 3, 4, 5...  there is really no reason to build it -- or build it this way -- but for keeping SLS 'useful' and 'relevant.'
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3186
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1568
  • Likes Given: 137
Re: Eroding Congressional support for SLS?
« Reply #9 on: 11/11/2017 07:36 PM »
If there is real erosion of support expect it to show up in the administration policies coming out of the NSC. If there is support for the associated SLS programs specifically DSG then the erosion is not very significant as yet. But the next item to watch is the FY2019 budget submission to Congress. That will give a barometer on the bureaucracy support and then how that budget get mangled by Congress will inform on Congress level of support.

Tags: