Author Topic: What will there be the money to do with SLS?  (Read 80421 times)

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #60 on: 11/02/2012 12:15 am »
Shuttle was a little over $3B a year at 4-6 flights per year.  Say $3.2B for 5.  This is an end-of-life number; it got cheaper over time due to engineering and organizational improvements.

That's not $1B per flight.  It's $640M.  And the bulk of that was fixed costs, as evidenced by the $200M/month figure to keep the program ready without any actual launches.

And on the NASA website, they report it as costing $400M per flight.  What keeps happening here over and over on the forum is that there are too many nerd fights over the actual differentiation between fixed and operating costs, and extreme insistance on some number between $400M and $1B per flight.  $640M/flight sounds like a reasonable comprimise between the two extremes.  Now, to move on:

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SLS will be cheaper than STS was at low flight rates, because of lower fixed costs.

So they say, and so it remains still to be seen.  They are making it too big too fast; there are only test flights for the next ten years at best; aerospace inflation at the whopping 15% year gratuity level has not yet been applied over those ten years; it's not a guarantee at all about those lower fixed prices.

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Since it is expendable, the per-flight incremental cost is higher, so there is a crossover point beyond which SLS ends up more expensive than STS.  The crossover is difficult to pinpoint because SLS cost estimates (at least from publicly-available data) currently seem to have some play in them, but I believe it is safe to say that the currently-projected manifest is well below it. 

You realize that this sounds like a subtle argument that a low flight rate is more economical than a high one?

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Using moderately optimistic numbers for SLS (that accord with DIRECT's estimates with corrections for specific design differences), the crossover seems to be around 4-6 flights per year; using more pessimistic numbers (and assuming a heavier, more evolved system with higher fixed costs) reduces it to around 2 per year or even less.

And now I'm confused.  Where are we saving money per flight; as the number of flights goes up? Or down?

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SLS plus Orion is of comparable cost to STS even at very low flight rates.

I insist; we shall see.

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It should be noted that USA claimed to be able to run STS quasi-commercially for $1.8B ...

Further, from what I recall, unless ATK can radically lower the fixed cost of the SRB...

Which topic I just avoid for the moment.

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Payloads for SLS don't need to be 70-90 tonnes.  Leaving aside the BA-2100 and such stuff, an exploration rocket doesn't need to be putting gigantic payloads in low Earth orbit when it could be putting normal-sized ones at L-points or in lunar orbit.

What?  We don't even need a 70 ton LV?  Why would you say they're building a 130 ton LV as fast as they can, then?  And why on Earth would we build a 70 ton Lv if we don't even plan to use its capacity?  Did you word this correctly?

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As for "there is no budget", NASA budget projections are worthless more than a few years out.  ...

We all hear that.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #61 on: 11/02/2012 12:18 am »
Huh? Yes, they're deliberately building a launch vehicle that consumes their whole budget. To be fair, the Congress (and the Senate in particular) told them to do that.

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The issue is that you seem to be implying that this is some sort of insoluble problem. [..] If the government wants NASA to work line items related to actually using SLS, they will put those items in the budget and fund them.

And this is where we enter delusional space cadet territory. There's no more money for NASA. You're never getting a bigger budget than you've got right now. You're openly admitting that nothing can be done with SLS, without a bigger budget. As there will never be a bigger budget, nothing will ever be done with SLS.

QED.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #62 on: 11/02/2012 12:51 am »
You can't get an accurate idea of what something costs by lumping stuff together like that.

Maybe not, but it's a different way of looking at the data.

For 2011, NASA cost $18.444B.  What did we get?  STS 133, 134, 135. (From the oracle.)  What else?  From:

http://www.nasa.gov/missions/calendar/index.html


03-04-11 Glory Launches on Climate Mission
03-16-11 Expedition 26 Soyuz Landing in Kazakhstan
03-17-11 MESSENGER Arrives at Mercury *
04-04-11 Expedition 27 Soyuz Launch to International Space Station
05-23-11 Expedition 27 Soyuz Landing in Kazakhstan
06-07-11 Expedition 28 Launch to the International Space Station
06-10-11 Aquarius launches from Vandenburg
07-07-11 NASA to Host Tweetup
07-15-11 Dawn Goes Into Orbit Around Asteroid Vesta
08-05-11 Targeted Launch of Juno
09-08-11 Targeted Launch of GRAIL
09-16-11 Expedition 28 Soyuz Landing in Kazakhstan
10-28-11 Launch of NPOESS Preparatory Project
11-13-11 Expedition 29/30 Launches to Space Station
12-21-11 Expedition 30/31 Launches to Space Station


It is certainly possible to look at NASA's expenditure each year and ask:  What missions were accomplished in this year?  It's a way to double check the numbers.  Kinda like the way you double check timesheets, both horizontally and vertically.

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I fail to see the point of comparing a modern system like SLS, with heritage from STS as it was at the end of the program, to a 30-year integrated program cost that includes significant accounting inconsistencies and more than one major hiccup...

But the functionality that this statement ends up with is that nothing can ever be accounted for, because all these narrowly defined, and ultimately arbitrarily defined costs can never be agreed upon.

Look again at that list for 2011.  For just under $18.5B, we got three shuttle flights, a few Protons, and a couple of satellites.  BTW, that NASA "Calendar" website is woefully inadequate; anybody wants to criticize me for using a NASA website, go for it.

They need more money in the budget to do SLS operations.

Do you disagree with that?

The issue is that you seem to be implying that this is some sort of insoluble problem. ...
Your assertion was that NASA was deliberately filling out the budget by making SLS more expensive than necessary.

They're making it larger than it needs to be, and by your own telling, they don't even need 70 tons to LEO.

If they are not deliberately "filling out the budget", then what is it that they are doing?

***********

* (Personal question: Do fish on Mercury contain Earth?  Just askin'.)
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline 93143

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #63 on: 11/02/2012 01:13 am »
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Since it is expendable, the per-flight incremental cost is higher, so there is a crossover point beyond which SLS ends up more expensive than STS.  The crossover is difficult to pinpoint because SLS cost estimates (at least from publicly-available data) currently seem to have some play in them, but I believe it is safe to say that the currently-projected manifest is well below it. 

You realize that this sounds like a subtle argument that a low flight rate is more economical than a high one?

Only if you're not paying attention.  The baseline is not STS program cost.  The baseline is zero.  SLS will require some number above that just to stay alive, and more to actually fly.  Same as STS.  The difference is that as flight rate increases, SLS gets more expensive faster than STS because more of the cost is per-unit rather than fixed infrastructure.

Or, to put it another way, the total per-flight costs of STS go down faster than those of SLS as the flight rate increases, though the starting point for STS is higher.

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But the functionality that this statement ends up with is that nothing can ever be accounted for, because all these narrowly defined, and ultimately arbitrarily defined costs can never be agreed upon.
It can be difficult to track down what everything costs, but it's not impossible.  STS program costs, exclusive of SFS, are reasonably well described in recent years, and estimates have been worked up for SLS based on past programs.

As for fixed vs. incremental, it's very simple.  Fixed costs are what the program would cost if there were no launches.  Incremental cost is the extra you would have to spend to add a launch to a program running at a given level.  The numbers can be a bit squishy for a number of legitimate reasons, but they are not arbitrary.

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Payloads for SLS don't need to be 70-90 tonnes.  Leaving aside the BA-2100 and such stuff, an exploration rocket doesn't need to be putting gigantic payloads in low Earth orbit when it could be putting normal-sized ones at L-points or in lunar orbit.

What?  We don't even need a 70 ton LV?  Why would you say they're building a 130 ton LV as fast as they can, then?  And why on Earth would we build a 70 ton Lv if we don't even plan to use its capacity?  Did you word this correctly?

You have shown a consistent lack of understanding of what these numbers mean.  You have on more than one occasion insisted that NASA stop at 70 tonnes, ignoring the fact that with an SDLV that means not having an upper stage, and thus being a LEO-only launcher.

SLS will be able to launch >70 tonnes into LEO.  But we're not going to LEO.  The TLI payload is roughly Shuttle-class (around 20 tonnes with ICPS, and 35 with the full CPS), and with the increasing popularity of the L2 Gateway idea, I see no reason why the bulk of the payloads for SLS need to be any larger than that.

Huh? Yes, they're deliberately building a launch vehicle that consumes their whole budget.

No.  They're receiving a budget that is barely sufficient to support the launch vehicle and capsule they were told to build.

Since the budget in question is provided specifically for that purpose, this only stands to reason.

As for NASA's top line being some sort of iron ceiling, that may well prove true in practice, but it does not need to, and there is precedent for the opposite (SEI most notably).  It depends on the state of the economy and the government budget as a whole, as well as on Presidential and Congressional politics and how they relate to NASA.

Consider for a moment what all these factors looked like as far back in the past as the scheduled first flight of SLS is in the future...

They're making it larger than it needs to be

Not very much larger.  At this point, backing up to 4-seg would be more expensive than sticking with 5-seg, and in any case the bulk of SRB costs are fixed infrastructure costs not directly related to the number of segments per booster.  And a 4-engine stretched core really isn't all that much more expensive than an ET-sized 3/4-engine core.

The idea behind Block 1B seems to be to find an optimal slot partway up the evolutionary path rather than rushing to max it out.  Block 1B is basically J-244SH, which is not that bad, especially if the feelers they're sending out regarding IVF and whatnot result in substantial commonality with ACES.  And if the Dynetics booster proposal makes good on its cost promises, the resulting system could get Block 2 performance for Block 1 costs...
« Last Edit: 11/02/2012 03:00 am by 93143 »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #64 on: 11/02/2012 01:20 am »
As for NASA's top line being some sort of iron ceiling, that may well prove true in practice, but it does not need to, and there is precedent for the opposite (SEI most notably).  It depends on the state of the economy and the government budget as a whole, as well as on Presidential and Congressional politics and how they relate to NASA.

Consider for a moment what all these factors looked like as far back in the past as the scheduled first flight of SLS is in the future...

How about you consider reality instead of extrapolating a fantasy from irrelevant historical data?

There's no more money for NASA. If that turns out to be true, which almost all sensible people would agree it is, then what is SLS? A rocket with no budget to be used. A waste.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline 93143

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #65 on: 11/02/2012 01:27 am »
Last I checked, the next five years hadn't happened yet.  What "reality" are you referring to?

Offline Go4TLI

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #66 on: 11/02/2012 01:57 am »
Has this thread run its course yet? 

It seems to be just a bunch of nonsense with people posting the same crap over and over, claiming how there is no money for anything else.  All the while to the best I can see not a single individual making such claims has posted ANY budget data, credible or not, with forecasts on the money required to build the payloads

Offline joek

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #67 on: 11/02/2012 02:05 am »
Has this thread run its course yet? 
Yes.  In any case, should be in space policy.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #68 on: 11/02/2012 02:16 am »
Has this thread run its course yet?

Yes

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It seems to be just a bunch of nonsense with people posting the same crap over and over, claiming how there is no money for anything else.  All the while to the best I can see not a single individual making such claims has posted ANY budget data, credible or not, with forecasts on the money required to build the payloads

No, we were having a discussion. 93143 and I both agreed that the NASA budget would have to grow for anything to be done with SLS. He thinks that's going to happen. I don't.

Do you disagree with the premise that NASA's budget will have to grow before they can go do exploration with SLS?

Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline 93143

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #69 on: 11/02/2012 02:53 am »
93143 and I both agreed that the NASA budget would have to grow for anything to be done with SLS.

I, uh, never said that.  I agree that the exploration budget probably needs to go up a bit in order to accomplish much exploration, unless NASA can find substantial cost savings in the SLS and possibly Orion operating budgets (this is not at all impossible; even I can think of a couple of things that would probably help).  Such an increase could in principle be obtained by shaving other areas of NASA.  I would greatly prefer extra money rather than a rearrangement, but it's possible.  The specifics of NASA's budget are somewhat fluid anyway, as NASA finishes projects and starts new ones...

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He thinks that's going to happen.

I never said that either.  I said it might.  You said it won't.  I say we don't even know who the next President is going to be, and certainly not what he's going to do once the campaign is over.  We don't know what the economy will look like in five years, or whether enough intelligence will have prevailed in Congress to get the budget under control, or even how the SLS program will go - if it goes well enough, that's ammunition for those who want to give NASA more money.

NASA's budget has been hit hard lately.  It's doing unusually badly, and if the government manages to claw its way out of the hole it's in, this will be noticed and rectified.  If it doesn't...  well, then we have worse problems, and I'd rather not take the financial implosion of the United States as a given.

...

EDIT:  The 2013 budget request includes about $4B for Exploration and another $4B for Space Operations, as well as ~$700M for Space Technology...  I didn't find a detailed breakdown, though, and right now I'm out of time...
« Last Edit: 11/02/2012 03:09 am by 93143 »

Offline spectre9

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #70 on: 11/02/2012 03:33 am »
The problem starts and ends with ISS.

Commercial crew and the LEO/BEO split is causing so much confusion.

Step 1 Build a 100b space station.

Step 2 retire the only vehicle you have to properly utilise that asset.

It was a good idea to retire shuttle when Ares 1 was going to happen. NASA bloat creeps in and suddenly everything is in the muck.

If DIV-H was selected to launch Orion (EELV black zone drama) Commercial Crew wouldn't be here but there still might be a gap.

Another option was United Space Alliance commercial shuttle.

NASA is pitching 800m for zero flights to ISS. How is that a better deal?

All the scrapping and fighting has to end somewhere. There will be some strong leadership that will pull NASA out of the fire. The last 2 guys haven't been much chop as much as I hate to rag on these fine men.

Orion can't have any funding for LEO launch so it's forced into the exploration budget.

As SLS gets bigger the flight rate gets lower.

NASA doesn't want an EELV derived heavy or anything built by SpaceX. They need to stay solid with Rocketdyne and ATK. These are politically favourable companies that provide high tech jobs and don't really gouge too much profit. NASA heavily invested in these companies during the shuttle era and they don't want to throw it all away just yet.

NASA was supposed to be trying to avoid concurrent developments to avoid funding struggles. It's obvious they've come nowhere near doing that.


Offline QuantumG

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #71 on: 11/02/2012 03:42 am »
93143 and I both agreed that the NASA budget would have to grow for anything to be done with SLS.

I, uh, never said that.  I agree that the exploration budget probably needs to go up a bit in order to accomplish much exploration, unless NASA can find substantial cost savings in the SLS and possibly Orion operating budgets (this is not at all impossible; even I can think of a couple of things that would probably help).  Such an increase could in principle be obtained by shaving other areas of NASA.

Yes, I too meant the exploration budget. I don't care how you think you're going to get it, you're not going to get it.

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He thinks that's going to happen.
I never said that either.  I said it might.  You said it won't.

Right, so you're refusing to take a position. I say the budget is never going up, you're saying but it might! So what? I might will the lotto, doesn't mean I should plan my life around that eventuality. NASA is right now, (admittedly because Congress told them to) planning their exploration program around a budget which is about as likely as me winning the lotto.

It's not just silly, it's irresponsible.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline spectre9

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #72 on: 11/02/2012 03:54 am »
They're hoping for miracles without actually putting the money into technology development that could achieve such results.

I think I understand what you're saying now.

They've given the maximum amount to SpaceX with crew and cargo. No other company has been gifted so much in this new space era. The old space guys put their hand out one too many times.

I think that's where they're hoping the miracles will come from.

See the speculation in some of the SpaceX threads here. Most of it's just off the wall and I can't even read it.

Offline 93143

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #73 on: 11/02/2012 04:06 am »
I say the budget is never going up, you're saying but it might! So what? I might will the lotto, doesn't mean I should plan my life around that eventuality. NASA is right now, (admittedly because Congress told them to) planning their exploration program around a budget which is about as likely as me winning the lotto.

Bingo.  Congress told them to.  Congress authorized and funded SLS.  And Congress has the power to fund missions for it.

NASA isn't gambling.  NASA is doing what it has been told to do.

Congress isn't gambling.  Congress is funding NASA to do what they want it to do.  If they want exploration, they will fund it.  (A bit of "leadership" from the President, in the sense of not deliberately picking the least inspiring plan possible, would be helpful I suppose...)

I'm not gambling.  I have no say in what NASA does; nor should I, as I'm not an American taxpayer.  I'm just hoping the U.S. Government puts its money where its mouth is.
« Last Edit: 11/02/2012 04:08 am by 93143 »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #74 on: 11/02/2012 04:17 am »
"Because Congress hasn't told us to." has to be the worst reason to do anything.

Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline 93143

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #75 on: 11/02/2012 04:21 am »
NASA is a federal agency.  It does what the government asks it to, with the money appropriated for the purpose.  In the case of SLS, both chambers passed it and the President signed it.  It is thus illegal for NASA to not do it, still more for NASA to take the money and do something else.  If the government funds this launcher and then refuses to give it something to do, that's the government's problem.

Now, you may object that NASA provided this design to the government to fund.  True.  But (a) they knew very well that the government was far more likely to fund something that at least looked like a Shuttle-derived solution than anything else, and (b) everyone has known since at least the Augustine Commission that NASA needs more money to explore properly regardless of what launcher they pick.

Also, (c) there are real advantages to Shuttle-derived - it's not just a mass of disadvantages.  The advantages are less than they were back when Shuttle was still running, but even so...
« Last Edit: 11/02/2012 04:38 am by 93143 »

Offline anonymous

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #76 on: 11/02/2012 11:36 am »
I found the budget scenarios document that Proponent posted on the first page of the thread rather informative. For $3B/y you get one flight every two years. If you gradually increase the budget from 2018 then you can afford one flight a year, although the budget rises to $3.7B/y by 2025. If you instead follow the Senate's plan for development of SLS, you would need $4B/y, which would allow one flight a year, or perhaps one crew and one cargo flight a year. An additional $1B/y by 2025 would allow for development of in-space elements, so you could do something more than fly SLS.

It seems to me that some money may become available within NASA's budget when the ISS comes to an end in 2020 or so. It currently costs about $3B/y. If that money was simply transferred to Exploration after 2020, then there would look to be enough money in the 2020s to fly SLS at least once a year and to develop other in-space elements then. I know that's a big 'if', though.
« Last Edit: 11/02/2012 11:39 am by anonymous »

Offline IRobot

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #77 on: 11/02/2012 02:04 pm »
It seems to me that some money may become available within NASA's budget when the ISS comes to an end in 2020 or so. It currently costs about $3B/y. If that money was simply transferred to Exploration after 2020, then there would look to be enough money in the 2020s to fly SLS at least once a year and to develop other in-space elements then. I know that's a big 'if', though.

If there are no technical issues, I doubt the ISS will come to an end by 2020. Probably they can reduce ISS's budget and partially transfer it to exploration.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #78 on: 11/02/2012 02:25 pm »
Quote from: 93143
Since it is expendable, the per-flight incremental cost is higher, so there is a crossover point beyond which SLS ends up more expensive than STS.  The crossover is difficult to pinpoint because SLS cost estimates (at least from publicly-available data) currently seem to have some play in them, but I believe it is safe to say that the currently-projected manifest is well below it. 

You realize that this sounds like a subtle argument that a low flight rate is more economical than a high one?

...  The baseline is not STS program cost.  The baseline is zero.  SLS will require some number above that just to stay alive, and more to actually fly.  Same as STS.  The difference is that as flight rate increases, SLS gets more expensive faster than STS because more of the cost is per-unit rather than fixed infrastructure.

Or, to put it another way, the total per-flight costs of STS go down faster than those of SLS as the flight rate increases, though the starting point for STS is higher.

If you say so.  This line of reasoning, to me, is like the Peace of God; It passeth all understanding.  I have no idea what point you are making.

Quote from: JF
But the functionality that this statement ends up with is that nothing can ever be accounted for, because all these narrowly defined, and ultimately arbitrarily defined costs can never be agreed upon.

Quote from: 93143
It can be difficult to track down what everything costs, but it's not impossible.  STS program costs, exclusive of SFS, are reasonably well described in recent years, and estimates have been worked up for SLS based on past programs.

And there is no widespread agreement, on this forum, or in Congress, or in the public eye, on what those costs are; there is no government website from NASA or GAO or whoever, listing these historical costs in a way that the public can understand without needing to read a host of other documents in who knows how many places.

Without data, it is largely a political discussion between insiders and outsiders.

Quote from: 93143
As for fixed vs. incremental, it's very simple.  Fixed costs are what the program would cost if there were no launches.  Incremental cost is the extra you would have to spend to add a launch to a program running at a given level.  The numbers can be a bit squishy for a number of legitimate reasons, but they are not arbitrary.

Thanks for an unnecessary elementary school summary which adds no data to the discussion.

Quote from: 93143
Quote from: JF
Quote from: 93143
Payloads for SLS don't need to be 70-90 tonnes.  Leaving aside the BA-2100 and such stuff, an exploration rocket doesn't need to be putting gigantic payloads in low Earth orbit when it could be putting normal-sized ones at L-points or in lunar orbit.

What?  We don't even need a 70 ton LV?  Why would you say they're building a 130 ton LV as fast as they can, then?  And why on Earth would we build a 70 ton Lv if we don't even plan to use its capacity?  Did you word this correctly?

You have shown a consistent lack of understanding of what these numbers mean.

Thanks for an informative response.

Quote from: 93143
SLS will be able to launch >70 tonnes into LEO.  But we're not going to LEO.  The TLI payload is roughly Shuttle-class (around 20 tonnes with ICPS, and 35 with the full CPS), and with the increasing popularity of the L2 Gateway idea, I see no reason why the bulk of the payloads for SLS need to be any larger than that.

OMG.  [snark]We're going to build another space station in twenty ton chunks?  Didn't we learn from ISS?[/snark]

Of course, NASA believes that there is no need for radio astronomy on the quiet farside of the Moon, and is currently working full time on a manned L2 space station.  That effort should be focused on L1, in my opinion.  If a 70 ton SLS can put twenty tons thru TLI and get to L1, 35 tons with the ICPS for that matter; in my opinion, that's as large an LV as we need to build another space station.  Let's get on with it.

Mars is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Huh? Yes, they're deliberately building a launch vehicle that consumes their whole budget.

Quote from: 93143
No.  They're receiving a budget that is barely sufficient to support the launch vehicle and capsule they were told to build.

At least they're making noises about using the 105 ton SLS variant, which is still scheduled to consume the whole budget.  In my opinion, they are not using the budget they have as efficiently as they can.  By budget, I mean the entire budget of NASA.

They're making it larger than it needs to be

Quote from: 93143
Not very much larger.  At this point, [blah, blah, blah about particulars] ...

The idea behind Block 1B seems to be to find an optimal slot partway up the evolutionary path rather than rushing to max it out. [blah, blah, blah about particulars] ...

In my opinion, building the 70 ton SLS and using it to launch 35 tons of payload to TLI should be the first order of the launch vehicle business.  There is not enough money for the payloads which would comprise the L1 space station.
« Last Edit: 11/02/2012 02:27 pm by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline muomega0

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Re: What will there be the money to do with SLS?
« Reply #79 on: 11/02/2012 04:03 pm »
OK, OK. But how do you build a business case with such a system? (And do not forget, the $$$ are, where people are working/not working/need to be paid anyway.)

How to Make the SLS Business Case Close

This is a very interesting question, how to make SLS business case close?

- Common hardware elements
- Reduction in the fixed costs of SLS components is mandatory
     no commonality?  give folks with seldom used product lines something else to do
- SLS provides functions of smaller LVs to eliminate their product lines.
- Substantially increase missions and budget (annual metric tonnes)

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Mixed Fleet--makes the case even tougher

Ares I and V had common elements to launch the crew and cargo, namely the solid segments--to reduce the costs (1.5 launches).

Today, SLS architectures will use a smaller vehicle to launch the crew, a mixed fleet.  Mixed Fleet: 9 SLS launches and 10 Crew Launches Figure

==>  NASA receives smaller set of launch vehicles at the recurring cost.  The total costs to the US should be considered, not just to NASA, however.

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Costs- The Assumptions and the Comparison

Let's provide a
BEO Cost Comparison of SLS with Solids or Liquids versus a Depot Centric Architecture without Development Costs discussed on another thread


Note the *KEY* assumptions being made

SLS+ Solids   1000M     300M  130 metric tonnes (set recur = liqs)
SLS+ Liquids   800M     300M

The Historical Costs of SSME, ET, and SRMs is about $1B/year

So these historical costs must be reduced, and then one needs to include J2X, avionics, integration costs, and of course operations.

As a comparison, one forum discussed the fixed costs of EELV being around $600M (?), includes ops.
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Costs- The Comparison

The figure is attached below.

So with two lunar sorties missions/year, the business case does not close.

It breaks even for one Mars/mission a year, but this Mars is every other year.

This assumes that these missions occur every year, or 240,000 kg/year for the 2X lunar or 450,000/2 for mars.


As you can see, every attempt, at least from my perspective, to make the business case close, is being made.  The latest study shows the SLS dollars/kg an order of magnitude higher, which is below.

Now does depot centric close for the remaining Budget?

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Remaining Budget:

Depot Centric vs SLS - reduced missions sets to make the budget close
Even with commercial launch/propellant depot having 32 percent less cost (than SLS), either the (reduced mission set vs HEFT) Near-Earth Asteroid program needs to be scaled back or less aggressive program like lunar science and ISRU development may be a better choice

So the budget numbers do not justify retaining the SLS product lines.

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