SLS rocket will waste billions more which would be better going to SpaceX

As of August 2018, Boeing has spent $11.9 billion working on the Space Launch System. (SLS) Boeing will spend at least $8.9 billion through 2021—double the amount initially planned—while delivery of the first Core Stage has slipped 2 ½ years from June 2017 to December 2019 and may slip further.

SpaceX developed the Falcon Heavy rocket for $500 million. The Falcon Heavy almost has the payload capacity of the Block 1 version of the SLS. A SpaceX BFR and BFS could be built with $2 to 10 billion of funding.

The SLS should be canceled and the funding given to SpaceX for the BFR and BFS.

The NASA Office of Inspector General reports in IG-19-001 on the Space Launch System.

Based on Boeing’s current expenditure rate, NASA will need to increase the contract value by approximately $800 million to complete the first Core Stage for delivery to the Kennedy Space Center in December 2019. If the EM-1 launch takes place in June 2020, more than $400 million—for a total of $1.2 billion—would need to be added to the contract. This amount would only ensure delivery of Core Stage 1 and would not include the billions more required to complete work on Core Stage 2 and the EUS. Consequently, in light of the Project’s development delays, we have concluded NASA will be unable to meet its EM-1 launch window currently scheduled between December 2019 and June 2020.

The auditor expects additional delays. Significant integration and testing activities—including the Green Run Test—in which technical issues are regularly found, have yet to occur.

Boeing’s development of “command and control” hardware and software needed to conduct this test is already 18 months behind a schedule established in 2016. This means the Stennis facility won’t be ready to accommodate a green run test until at least May 2019, with further delays possible.

Several poor contract management practices by NASA contributed to the SLS Program’s cost and schedule overruns. First, contrary to current federal guidance, NASA lacks visibility into the Boeing Stages contract costs
because all three of the company’s key activities—development of Core Stages 1 and 2 and the EUS—are co-mingled into the same contract line item number, making it difficult for the Agency to track expenditures. As a result, NASA is unable to determine the cost of a single Core Stage, which will affect the Agency’s ability to determine pricing for future Core Stages. Second, we found flaws in NASA’s evaluation of Boeing’s performance, resulting in NASA inflating the contractor’s scores and leading to overly generous award fees.

The original plan was to save costs and utilize technologies already in development. Congress directed NASA to develop the SLS by incorporating elements from the retired Space Shuttle Program and the canceled Constellation Program. However, this has cost many times more than paying SpaceX to develop superior rockets.

NASA complied with these directives and designed the SLS by leveraging the following key components and contractors:
* Four RS-25 engines originally designed and built for the Space Shuttle Program. NASA contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne to prepare the engines for use in the SLS, including new controllers that communicate commands and monitor an engine’s health and status.
* Two solid rocket boosters being built by Northrup Grumman Corporation from components used by the Space Shuttle and Constellation programs. The length of the boosters was extended by adding a fifth segment that increases the amount of solid rocket fuel the boosters can hold,
thereby increasing thrust capabilities.
* The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage is the upper stage, also known as the second stage, for the initial SLS launches and is based upon a similar design used on the Delta IV rocket. Built by Boeing, the upper stage is a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based system with a single RL-10 engine and is currently stored at Kennedy Space Center (Kennedy) awaiting integration with the rest of the SLS rocket and Orion capsule for the EM-1 mission.

50 thoughts on “SLS rocket will waste billions more which would be better going to SpaceX”

  1. More like separate it into the FAA of space for relatively near earth stuff an exploration organization to make probes to other planets which are put in orbit by SpaceX or any other private company that can get their costs down to similarly low levels.

    Reply
  2. More like separate it into the FAA of space for relatively near earth stuff an exploration organization to make probes to other planets which are put in orbit by SpaceX or any other private company that can get their costs down to similarly low levels.

    Reply
  3. There needs to be a change in the program period. NASA needs to become the FAA of space and let those with tighter cost controls build their toys. SpaceX has done well in building rockets and on a budget. In contrast, NASA has done nothing in the last 40 years but waste money with cost overruns and excessive spending of our tax dollars. Kill the SLS and let SpaceX do its thing.

    Reply
  4. There needs to be a change in the program period. NASA needs to become the FAA of space and let those with tighter cost controls build their toys. SpaceX has done well in building rockets and on a budget. In contrast NASA has done nothing in the last 40 years but waste money with cost overruns and excessive spending of our tax dollars. Kill the SLS and let SpaceX do its thing.

    Reply
  5. Why even bother having this discussion. We all know what the SLS is. A tax payer rip off. And lets not forget to include the 10s of billions that went into the Ares 5. That is after all what it used to be called. (a wee oversight Brian?)Yes you can also call it a “jobs program” and “funder for political campaigns” but ultimately its tax payer money being hoovered up by private companies. SLS’s main function is to cost as much as possible. How’s that for a sweet deal. Imagine you owned a burger joint and got to sell your burger meals at 100$ each. You don’t have to worry about nobody buying them because you have a guaranteed clientele which are civil servants . All of them send the bill to the tax payer.

    Reply
  6. Why even bother having this discussion. We all know what the SLS is. A tax payer rip off. And lets not forget to include the 10s of billions that went into the Ares 5. That is after all what it used to be called. (a wee oversight Brian?)Yes you can also call it a jobs program”” and “”””funder for political campaigns”””” but ultimately its tax payer money being hoovered up by private companies. SLS’s main function is to cost as much as possible. How’s that for a sweet deal. Imagine you owned a burger joint and got to sell your burger meals at 100$ each. You don’t have to worry about nobody buying them because you have a guaranteed clientele which are civil servants . All of them send the bill to the tax payer.”””

    Reply
  7. Better approach is to fund missions, which coincidentally provides greater public good benefits. Send multiple Mars missions each window, etc. Maybe make the jobs porkbarrel take the form of mission control & support.

    Reply
  8. Better approach is to fund missions which coincidentally provides greater public good benefits. Send multiple Mars missions each window etc. Maybe make the jobs porkbarrel take the form of mission control & support.

    Reply
  9. Space X has already had this in the past with Falcon 9, though. Very large parts of Falcon 9’s development path were funded by government contracts and they would have had to have SRR’s and PDRs and CDRs and all the rest.

    Reply
  10. Space X has already had this in the past with Falcon 9 though. Very large parts of Falcon 9’s development path were funded by government contracts and they would have had to have SRR’s and PDRs and CDRs and all the rest.

    Reply
  11. It is not clear that “giving” huge government funding to SpaceX would actually help. In general, government funding comes with government oversight, and government regulations and work practices, and next thing you know you are actually getting LESS done than before you got “help”.

    Reply
  12. It is not clear that giving”” huge government funding to SpaceX would actually help.In general”” government funding comes with government oversight and government regulations and work practices”” and next thing you know you are actually getting LESS done than before you got “”””help””””.”””

    Reply
  13. More like separate it into the FAA of space for relatively near earth stuff an exploration organization to make probes to other planets which are put in orbit by SpaceX or any other private company that can get their costs down to similarly low levels.

    Reply
  14. More like separate it into the FAA of space for relatively near earth stuff an exploration organization to make probes to other planets which are put in orbit by SpaceX or any other private company that can get their costs down to similarly low levels.

    Reply
  15. There needs to be a change in the program period. NASA needs to become the FAA of space and let those with tighter cost controls build their toys. SpaceX has done well in building rockets and on a budget. In contrast, NASA has done nothing in the last 40 years but waste money with cost overruns and excessive spending of our tax dollars. Kill the SLS and let SpaceX do its thing.

    Reply
  16. There needs to be a change in the program period. NASA needs to become the FAA of space and let those with tighter cost controls build their toys. SpaceX has done well in building rockets and on a budget. In contrast NASA has done nothing in the last 40 years but waste money with cost overruns and excessive spending of our tax dollars. Kill the SLS and let SpaceX do its thing.

    Reply
  17. Why even bother having this discussion. We all know what the SLS is. A tax payer rip off. And lets not forget to include the 10s of billions that went into the Ares 5. That is after all what it used to be called. (a wee oversight Brian?)Yes you can also call it a “jobs program” and “funder for political campaigns” but ultimately its tax payer money being hoovered up by private companies. SLS’s main function is to cost as much as possible. How’s that for a sweet deal. Imagine you owned a burger joint and got to sell your burger meals at 100$ each. You don’t have to worry about nobody buying them because you have a guaranteed clientele which are civil servants . All of them send the bill to the tax payer.

    Reply
  18. Why even bother having this discussion. We all know what the SLS is. A tax payer rip off. And lets not forget to include the 10s of billions that went into the Ares 5. That is after all what it used to be called. (a wee oversight Brian?)Yes you can also call it a jobs program”” and “”””funder for political campaigns”””” but ultimately its tax payer money being hoovered up by private companies. SLS’s main function is to cost as much as possible. How’s that for a sweet deal. Imagine you owned a burger joint and got to sell your burger meals at 100$ each. You don’t have to worry about nobody buying them because you have a guaranteed clientele which are civil servants . All of them send the bill to the tax payer.”””

    Reply
  19. More like separate it into the FAA of space for relatively near earth stuff an exploration organization to make probes to other planets which are put in orbit by SpaceX or any other private company that can get their costs down to similarly low levels.

    Reply
  20. Better approach is to fund missions, which coincidentally provides greater public good benefits. Send multiple Mars missions each window, etc. Maybe make the jobs porkbarrel take the form of mission control & support.

    Reply
  21. Better approach is to fund missions which coincidentally provides greater public good benefits. Send multiple Mars missions each window etc. Maybe make the jobs porkbarrel take the form of mission control & support.

    Reply
  22. There needs to be a change in the program period. NASA needs to become the FAA of space and let those with tighter cost controls build their toys. SpaceX has done well in building rockets and on a budget. In contrast, NASA has done nothing in the last 40 years but waste money with cost overruns and excessive spending of our tax dollars. Kill the SLS and let SpaceX do its thing.

    Reply
  23. Space X has already had this in the past with Falcon 9, though. Very large parts of Falcon 9’s development path were funded by government contracts and they would have had to have SRR’s and PDRs and CDRs and all the rest.

    Reply
  24. Space X has already had this in the past with Falcon 9 though. Very large parts of Falcon 9’s development path were funded by government contracts and they would have had to have SRR’s and PDRs and CDRs and all the rest.

    Reply
  25. It is not clear that “giving” huge government funding to SpaceX would actually help. In general, government funding comes with government oversight, and government regulations and work practices, and next thing you know you are actually getting LESS done than before you got “help”.

    Reply
  26. It is not clear that giving”” huge government funding to SpaceX would actually help.In general”” government funding comes with government oversight and government regulations and work practices”” and next thing you know you are actually getting LESS done than before you got “”””help””””.”””

    Reply
  27. Why even bother having this discussion. We all know what the SLS is. A tax payer rip off. And lets not forget to include the 10s of billions that went into the Ares 5. That is after all what it used to be called. (a wee oversight Brian?)Yes you can also call it a “jobs program” and “funder for political campaigns” but ultimately its tax payer money being hoovered up by private companies. SLS’s main function is to cost as much as possible. How’s that for a sweet deal. Imagine you owned a burger joint and got to sell your burger meals at 100$ each. You don’t have to worry about nobody buying them because you have a guaranteed clientele which are civil servants . All of them send the bill to the tax payer.

    Reply
  28. Better approach is to fund missions, which coincidentally provides greater public good benefits. Send multiple Mars missions each window, etc. Maybe make the jobs porkbarrel take the form of mission control & support.

    Reply
  29. Space X has already had this in the past with Falcon 9, though. Very large parts of Falcon 9’s development path were funded by government contracts and they would have had to have SRR’s and PDRs and CDRs and all the rest.

    Reply
  30. It is not clear that “giving” huge government funding to SpaceX would actually help.
    In general, government funding comes with government oversight, and government regulations and work practices, and next thing you know you are actually getting LESS done than before you got “help”.

    Reply

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