Author Topic: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut  (Read 33211 times)

Offline woods170

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #140 on: 02/13/2018 06:52 AM »
OK, let's paraphrase the question.

Could a rocket (such as SLS) continue its existence if her direct competitors offer cheaper options?

Could such a rocket exist and fly, even if it has limited use (i.e. missions to lunar orbit) and no commercial launches?

The answer should be a theoretical yes. But could it be, in this specific case?
BFR and NA will totally price SLS out of the market. The estimated $1 billion cost per launch of SLS is absolutely insane especially in the light of the BFR announcement last IAC. Cost of BFR per launch will be cheaper than F9 with 1st stage reuse never mind SLS and NA will likely be competitive with BFR on launch cost. Expendable launchers such as SLS won't stand a chance in a few years time as the launch market moves towards reusable systems.

No, they won't.
SLS will fly its first mission before BFR and NA become operational. As such, NASA won't be forced to use commercial alternatives.
SLS will be primarily used to fly government missions. As such, SLS is not competing with BFR and NA.
The primary markets for BFR and NA are commercial missions, not government work.

IMO, the fate of SLS after the debut of Falcon Heavy is that it will continue to exist and (eventually) launch, even after BFR and NA have arrived on the scene.

Offline DJPledger

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #141 on: 02/13/2018 08:05 AM »

1. BFR and NA replace SLS because SLS is so dammed expensive.
2. BO designs NA to launch Orion as a payload option so SLS not needed.
3. NA may be superior to SLS for TLI.
4. SLS can no way compete with BFR and NA forcing it's cancellation.
5. Just cancel SLS, give it up as a bad job to stop further money bleeding and hand over funding for BFR and NA dev.
6. US of BFR may start testing by the time EM-1 launches.

So all in all SLS needs to be cancelled now to stop billions more $ being wasted.
Unfortunately, SLS is doing precisely what it was intended to do. Spread lots of pork around to lobbyists and constituents. It's not called the Senate Launch System for nothing, and as long as the money keeps flowing, the project will continue, launch or not.
Perhaps Musk and Bezos should get together and force NASA to cancel SLS and to fund their HLV systems.

They couldn't do any such thing, even if they tried to do what you propose. A. NASA is not in charge of deciding how its budget is spent, Congress is; and B. that's not how federal funding works. If Congress cancels a project, that money isn't redistributed, it's just gone.
The easiest way to get SLS cancelled is for Musk and Bezos to become members of Congress. Only then will Congress wake up to the reality of reusable rockets.

Offline DJPledger

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #142 on: 02/13/2018 08:19 AM »
OK, let's paraphrase the question.

Could a rocket (such as SLS) continue its existence if her direct competitors offer cheaper options?

Could such a rocket exist and fly, even if it has limited use (i.e. missions to lunar orbit) and no commercial launches?

The answer should be a theoretical yes. But could it be, in this specific case?
BFR and NA will totally price SLS out of the market. The estimated $1 billion cost per launch of SLS is absolutely insane especially in the light of the BFR announcement last IAC. Cost of BFR per launch will be cheaper than F9 with 1st stage reuse never mind SLS and NA will likely be competitive with BFR on launch cost. Expendable launchers such as SLS won't stand a chance in a few years time as the launch market moves towards reusable systems.

No, they won't.
SLS will fly its first mission before BFR and NA become operational. As such, NASA won't be forced to use commercial alternatives.
SLS will be primarily used to fly government missions. As such, SLS is not competing with BFR and NA.
The primary markets for BFR and NA are commercial missions, not government work.

IMO, the fate of SLS after the debut of Falcon Heavy is that it will continue to exist and (eventually) launch, even after BFR and NA have arrived on the scene.
SLS needs to be cancelled now as the global launch market moves towards reusability. The SpaceX effect is causing everyone on Earth to look toward reusability except dumb minded Congress.

The money that Congress will waste between now and when/if SLS launches would likely be enough to fully fund BFR and NA dev. to IOC of both systems.

To say that BFR and NA won't price SLS out of the market is absurd when just one SLS launch is likely to cost the same as possibly up to 50 launches of BFR and/or NA. BFR and NA will be perfectly capable of flying gov. missions as well as commercial so no need for SLS.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #143 on: 02/13/2018 09:05 AM »
If SLS gets cancelled now that will be end of DSG and NASA HSF BLEO. The freed up money will go back into Government coffers. NASA may buy commercial HSF services to BLEO but it won't pay for development.

SLS Orion and DSG enables HSF to BLEO. Commercial companies will eventually follow and do it cheaper allowing SLS to be cancelled.

Offline DJPledger

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #144 on: 02/13/2018 09:19 AM »
If SLS gets cancelled now that will be end of DSG and NASA HSF BLEO. The freed up money will go back into Government coffers. NASA may buy commercial HSF services to BLEO but it won't pay for development.

SLS Orion and DSG enables HSF to BLEO. Commercial companies will eventually follow and do it cheaper allowing SLS to be cancelled.
Cancelling SLS now will only delay DSG and NASA HSF BLEO until BFR IOC then be joined by NA a few years later. Gov. should just give the money freed up by SLS cancellation to SpaceX and BO for BFR and NA dev. respectively. Better to delay NASA BLEO HSF a few years by cancelling SLS for the dramatically reduced costs benefits of using BFR and NA. Need to force NASA to pay for commercial HLV dev. using the money saved from SLS cancellation.

Perhaps we should all get together and lobby Congress and NASA to get SLS cancelled ASAP and to divert funds towards expediting BFR and NA dev.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #145 on: 02/13/2018 09:33 AM »
It's not a bad idea - pity it doesn't really work that way :(  The funds are not directly transferable by the signing of a pen or a few phonecalls. The budgetary process can be tortuous and long-winded in the first place. And common sense isn't always that common. There is more 'not invented here' syndrome to this than we can imagine. :'(
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Offline Proponent

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #146 on: 02/13/2018 10:17 AM »
Don't go into *Low* lunar orbit but instead an elliptical orbit. Way less delta-V to enter and leave. Solves a whole bunch of problems and makes logistics by a whole range of rockets easier.

Does an elliptical orbit result in spacecraft having to use instantaneous launches due to tiny windows?

I don't think the windows are excessively short.  The problem I see is that an efficient TEI burn must take place at perilune and on the far side of the moon.  So it seems to me that an elliptical orbit leaves you with departure windows only once a month.  You could move perilune, but that takes delta-V.  Am I missing something?

Isn't it one launch window (from Low Earth Orbit) per lunar orbit of the lunar gateway/orbiter. That doesn;t impose a constraint on launch from Earth, assuming the upper stage can orbit for between 0 and a few days. 

It's leaving the Moon to return to earth that I'm worried about rather than the departure from earth.

Offline woods170

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #147 on: 02/13/2018 11:50 AM »
If SLS gets cancelled now that will be end of DSG and NASA HSF BLEO. The freed up money will go back into Government coffers. NASA may buy commercial HSF services to BLEO but it won't pay for development.

SLS Orion and DSG enables HSF to BLEO. Commercial companies will eventually follow and do it cheaper allowing SLS to be cancelled.
Cancelling SLS now will only delay DSG and NASA HSF BLEO until BFR IOC then be joined by NA a few years later. Gov. should just give the money freed up by SLS cancellation to SpaceX and BO for BFR and NA dev. respectively. Better to delay NASA BLEO HSF a few years by cancelling SLS for the dramatically reduced costs benefits of using BFR and NA. Need to force NASA to pay for commercial HLV dev. using the money saved from SLS cancellation.

Perhaps we should all get together and lobby Congress and NASA to get SLS cancelled ASAP and to divert funds towards expediting BFR and NA dev.

That would be an incredibly bad idea. You see, if Congress was to give that money to SpaceX and BO they would want both companies to develop those vehicles under government supervision and to government requirements. And that would instantly make those vehicles at least an order of magnitude more expensive.

Pork barrel politics, remember...

Why do you think Bezos is developing New Glenn without NASA involvement? Why do you think Musk is developing BFR/BFS without NASA involvement?
Exactly for the reason given above.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2018 11:54 AM by woods170 »

Offline hektor

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #148 on: 02/13/2018 12:00 PM »
Orion is the only exploration program which has an international participation built in. That would send a bad message to cancel it now. How would you convince ESA or JAXA to join in later initiatives ?

Offline speedevil

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #149 on: 02/13/2018 12:10 PM »
If SLS gets cancelled now that will be end of DSG and NASA HSF BLEO. The freed up money will go back into Government coffers. NASA may buy commercial HSF services to BLEO but it won't pay for development.

SLS Orion and DSG enables HSF to BLEO.
It enables one sort of BLEO.
DSG enables 'fuel poor' missions, where every gram of fuel around the moon costs many dollars.

It enables lunar missions with Apollo class one ton payloads to the moon for a billion dollars. (maybe several times cheaper than this, but not much more).
Do we want this capability?

It is at least arguable that we do, if we assume none of the efforts at wholly reusable spacecraft will ever pay off, and that payload to the moon will remain at $10000/g.

Offline Jim

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #150 on: 02/13/2018 01:21 PM »

Perhaps we should all get together and lobby Congress and NASA to get SLS cancelled ASAP and to divert funds towards expediting BFR and NA dev.

No, they don't need the money

Online Archibald

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #151 on: 02/13/2018 01:28 PM »
A very interesting article on the Space Review:

""""SLS is simply one more government project, liberally marinated in absurdity, that continues because it has, thus far, flown below the public’s radar. Absent public outrage or, even worse, public ridicule, many such projects have soldiered on in obscurity for long periods based entirely on the politics of parochial self-interest and mutual back-scratching. But no amount of political influence tends to be able to save these things when the general public takes note. Especially when they laugh.""""

http://thespacereview.com/article/3429/1

the Space Review ain't what it used to be. Quality of the articles has become unequal along the years...
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #152 on: 02/13/2018 01:30 PM »

Perhaps we should all get together and lobby Congress and NASA to get SLS cancelled ASAP and to divert funds towards expediting BFR and NA dev.

No, they don't need the money
Agreed.

And if we do find them (indirectly), the govt should bargain hard and make them work hard for every dollar through competition.
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Offline spacenut

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #153 on: 02/13/2018 02:02 PM »
Cots for the moon space station or moon base.  NASA should ask for proposals, then look at the cost and who would be the best to provide and narrow down to two companies.  The only requirement I think they should have is the equipment and modules be modular and be able to connect from different companies.  How they get the equipment there is their business, whether FH, NG or NA, BFR, Vulcan-ACES, or foreign contributors. 

Offline bob the martian

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #154 on: 02/13/2018 02:40 PM »
OK, let's paraphrase the question.

Could a rocket (such as SLS) continue its existence if her direct competitors offer cheaper options?

Everyone keeps missing the point.

SLS is not subject to any kind of market pressure.  At all.  The eventual existence of multiple commercial offerings with equivalent performance for less cost is completely, absolutely irrelevant to SLS' future.  Cost effectiveness is not the metric against which SLS' continued survival will be measured.  Keeping federal dollars flowing into specific districts is the metric against which its survival is measured.  As long as it fills that role, arguments about cost per launch, rate of launches, lack of missions, etc., will have little weight. 

Politics and nothing else will decide SLS' fate.  Certain elected officials will have to retire, die, or lose elections in order for SLS to be cancelled irrespective of the existence (or not) of FH, BFR, NA, etc.  Sure, we can argue to our elected representatives that it's a waste of money and should be cancelled, and most of them will agree and push for cancellation, but unless they're in the right positions of power, it won't happen. 

Offline phantomdj

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #155 on: 02/13/2018 02:59 PM »
OK, let's paraphrase the question.

Could a rocket (such as SLS) continue its existence if her direct competitors offer cheaper options?

Everyone keeps missing the point.

SLS is not subject to any kind of market pressure.  At all.  The eventual existence of multiple commercial offerings with equivalent performance for less cost is completely, absolutely irrelevant to SLS' future.  Cost effectiveness is not the metric against which SLS' continued survival will be measured.  Keeping federal dollars flowing into specific districts is the metric against which its survival is measured.  As long as it fills that role, arguments about cost per launch, rate of launches, lack of missions, etc., will have little weight. 

Politics and nothing else will decide SLS' fate.  Certain elected officials will have to retire, die, or lose elections in order for SLS to be cancelled irrespective of the existence (or not) of FH, BFR, NA, etc.  Sure, we can argue to our elected representatives that it's a waste of money and should be cancelled, and most of them will agree and push for cancellation, but unless they're in the right positions of power, it won't happen.

Agreed.

Comparing cost to performance, SLS is untenable and is basically white-collar welfare. At best it is a back up for BFR and NG in case they do not live up to expectations or have a major failure (e.g. Challenger and Columbia). SLS will continue to be funded as long as the political Alabama (sorry, need to stop here for a second and just say that I have to use stupid words to get my point across. I know that means I must have a weak argument, but that's why I use bad words). is in Congress or the public finally complains.
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Offline GWH

Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #156 on: 02/13/2018 03:57 PM »

Perhaps we should all get together and lobby Congress and NASA to get SLS cancelled ASAP and to divert funds towards expediting BFR and NA dev.

No, they don't need the money
Agreed.

And if we do find them (indirectly), the govt should bargain hard and make them work hard for every dollar through competition.

Yes. Don't fund boosters or upper stages directly but fund what adds new capabilities over SLS. The point of using commercial rockets is they were already developed and funded on their business case alone.

BFR as a lander or crew vehicle has significant value over SLS. ACES/Xues allow for increased stage duration and landing. New Armstrong is an unknown but if it includes some type of lander then it adds new capabilities. 
All these things can replace SLS on their own.

Offline TaurusLittrow

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #157 on: 02/13/2018 06:24 PM »
Spaceflightnow.com:
"NASA officials said there would be significant roles for commercial partners in the lunar exploration plan. In 2022, a power and propulsion module could be launched aboard a commercial rocket to begin the construction of a space station named the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway. Employing solar-electric propulsion with plasma engines, the module was previously slated to launch on the NASA-owned Space Launch System"


Interesting report on today's Spaceflightnow.com based on just-released NASA budget outline. According to the report, NASA could launch the Power/Prop module of the Deep Space Gateway aboard a COMMERCIAL rocket in 2022 (instead of SLS). Commercial rockets with the lift capacity in 2022: Falcon Heavy or perhaps New Glenn.



Offline envy887

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #158 on: 02/13/2018 08:08 PM »
Spaceflightnow.com:
"NASA officials said there would be significant roles for commercial partners in the lunar exploration plan. In 2022, a power and propulsion module could be launched aboard a commercial rocket to begin the construction of a space station named the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway. Employing solar-electric propulsion with plasma engines, the module was previously slated to launch on the NASA-owned Space Launch System"


Interesting report on today's Spaceflightnow.com based on just-released NASA budget outline. According to the report, NASA could launch the Power/Prop module of the Deep Space Gateway aboard a COMMERCIAL rocket in 2022 (instead of SLS). Commercial rockets with the lift capacity in 2022: Falcon Heavy or perhaps New Glenn.

DIVH and Vulcan 564 would also be able to send the PPE to TLI, if it does LOI with SEP. ACES would also be capable of LOI but is unlikely to be flying by then.

Offline envy887

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Re: The fate of SLS after Falcon Heavy debut
« Reply #159 on: 02/13/2018 08:11 PM »
OK, let's paraphrase the question.

Could a rocket (such as SLS) continue its existence if her direct competitors offer cheaper options?

Everyone keeps missing the point.

SLS is not subject to any kind of market pressure.  At all.  The eventual existence of multiple commercial offerings with equivalent performance for less cost is completely, absolutely irrelevant to SLS' future.  Cost effectiveness is not the metric against which SLS' continued survival will be measured.  Keeping federal dollars flowing into specific districts is the metric against which its survival is measured.  As long as it fills that role, arguments about cost per launch, rate of launches, lack of missions, etc., will have little weight. 

Politics and nothing else will decide SLS' fate.  Certain elected officials will have to retire, die, or lose elections in order for SLS to be cancelled irrespective of the existence (or not) of FH, BFR, NA, etc.  Sure, we can argue to our elected representatives that it's a waste of money and should be cancelled, and most of them will agree and push for cancellation, but unless they're in the right positions of power, it won't happen.

Even politics can't save SLS once commercial vehicles prove they can exceed its capabilities. Right now it's easy to call the other vehicles paper rockets that will never fly, and drum up support for SLS as something that NASA needs. Much harder to do that with other vehicles flying.

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