SLS Losing EM-1 and Europa Clipper Mission With More Delays

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has testified at a hearing that the Space Launch System will likely not be ready for a June 2020 launch of the Exploration Mission-1. The Orion capsule is ready and could be launched on commercial launchers. Two launches of existing commercial launchers could be used to place the Orion into orbit. The uncrewed Orion capsule and the boost stage could be launched separately into orbit and then docked in space before being sent to the moon. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy both seem like they could be easily modified for the mission.
SOURCES – NASA, Jim Bridenstine Twitter, Scott Manley Youtube Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture

39 thoughts on “SLS Losing EM-1 and Europa Clipper Mission With More Delays”

  1. There will ALWAYS be an SLS. It will get renamed, ‘re-orged’, whatever. But as long as NASA exists for why it does, there will always be something like this. Period.

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  2. You still miss it.

    When Jean said “flogging the SLS dead horse” the phrase “flogging the horse” doesn’t mean “being mean to, criticising, the SLS project”
    It means “supporting the SLS project” to flog the horse doesn’t mean attacking the horse because you want it killed, it means trying harder and harder to get the horse to stand up again and keep working. The person flogging the horse is the person who thinks that the horse still has the ability to do the job, it just needs more motivation.

    Hence, when someone says to “stop flogging the dead horse” they don’t mean “stop criticising the dead project”. They mean “stop trying to get the project going again, give up, move on to something else.”

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  3. Ever notice that the cutting edge stuff that JPL does has nothing to do with the tens of billions of dollars being spent on repurposing old SRB’s?

    Most of what NASA does is amazing. Some of what NASA does is aimless. Some of what NASA does is downright wasteful and that is where SLS is at.

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  4. Part of successfully working the Long Con is knowing when to pack up and skip town. For the SLS folks, that day is coming soon.

    I think they were hoping to be able to milk it until 2024, but my guess is that it’ll be gone all the way in the FY2022 budget.

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  5. What you said. Just give ’em the same amount of money to do useful things.

    SLS and its ground systems are $2.3B a year, for at least the next 10 years. You could make quick work of a lander architecture and the beginnings of a lunar base for $23B.

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  6. There doesn’t seem to be any priority on actually getting this thing to flight-worthy status.

    How long has it been under development again? 8 years? Makes me wonder how many engineers and managers got pushed to this mid-career and realized it was a dead end, and have been basically marking time until retirement.

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  7. No. Not even that.

    People on these forums REALLY do not understand how Congress thinks.

    Congresscritters exist in their own little world.

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  8. So? I mean, yes…all good and well.

    But that isn’t what it is there for. Congress can care less about any of that except for to use to spin justifications for their pork barrel spending at NASA.

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  9. NASA can keep doing research and could do more research if they spent half the SLS money on commercial launchers and the other half on research.

    If you want more NASA research then cancel SLS.

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  10. Right. Hypersonics are perfect for NASA. Endless quantities of outrageously expensive rockets non of which are reusable.

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  11. I see your point.
    The problem is[as you point out] is that the SLS is NOT dead. Not as long as Sen.Shelby of Alabama is pulling Code Blue on it and keeping it from death.

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  12. Short of SLS exploding on its first launch that won’t happen. Congress doesn’t care. People get lazy when they spend other people’s money and all government spends is other people’s money.

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  13. My honest opinion: We will have two parallel space programs.

    SLS won’t be cancelled because its existence isn’t tied to any kind of real world result or metric.

    There will be a private sector space program that thrives and a sclerotic NASA rent seeking space program that produces the finest PPTs mankind has ever seen.

    Really the only thing that will cancel SLS is SpaceX and BO being wildly successful and a SLS launch exploding on the pad.

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  14. Knowing someone who is involved with SLS I will feel sorry for them when SLS is actually cancelled.

    In the meantime it is an absurd multi decade waste of money and ought be cancelled.

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  15. I almost feel sorry for the NASA people working on SLS. Every time they fail to meet deadlines, everyone cheers. When someone mentions the SLS, nine out of ten people want it to close before it wastes too much money that could be more efficiently spent elsewhere. It is the most hated program in space launch today, and deserves to die a quiet death. It’s enough to sap the will of any engineer to do their work quickly and well on the program. Considering I’m one of the nine who want it to close, I ALMOST feel sorry for them, but I can’t quite bring myself to do so.

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  16. Do you even know what NASA does?? I don’t think so. Ever heard of JPL? Ever heard of Spirit or Opportunity, let alone the 100s of other amazing space science missions? You have no clue.

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  17. NASA has done loads of research which would be very expensive and difficult to duplicate. We need to preserve that reservoir of knowledge for future development. NERVA for example.

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  18. SLS will not die. Although its missions will be more curtailed. As a creature of government, this beast will be the vehicle of choice for very sensitive and expensive security missions. My opinion is that nuclear payloads will also be much easier to get approval.

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  19. I think someone pointed this out recently:
    The average age of NASA (or it may have been NASA Mission Control) during the moon landing was 26.

    The same people were there during the Space shuttle development, but they were 36.

    The same people were there during Space shuttle operation, but they were 46.

    The same people were there during ISS development but they were 60.

    The result is obvious. You don’t need any other explanation that a 26 year old will take risks and do stuff just for adventure while a 60 year old will just repeat the tried and trusted old methods that happen to fatten up his retirement account.

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  20. Pork must flow. But not necessarily THIS pork.

    If, to chose an example at random, there was suddenly a major push for development of hypersonic military craft, well then there would be a whole bunch of high tech aerospace contracts looking for a home.

    Sounds like a good time to abandon projects that have become embarrassing failures, and jump onto new projects with a prospect of becoming successful.
    Or if not successful then at least without an obvious commercial success they can be annoyingly compared to.
    Or if there is an annoying successful rival, at least that will be several years away and not next month.

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  21. Hopefully spaceX will soon start testing the Starhopper, and congressmen will realize they are riding on a horse on life support, and will kill it, so NASA can partner with SpaceX on the Starship. By “partner” I mean get money out of them for missions, nothing more, I don’t want NASA’s bureaucracy slowing it all down.

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  22. And that is why those on here who have ZERO clue why NASA REALLY exists and even insist upon arguing against SLS on merited logic are smoking hallucinogenic crack, kiddies.

    Look up Willful Denial.

    As for the ‘bold’ NASA Administrator who is going against this. Well, ‘bold’ in writings about politics means “some pol who is putting his foot into his mouth”. It is in the context of someone foolishly bucking the system. Expect Trump to soon have a choice between reigning in the NASA administrator or making an enemy with the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

    I will say this ONCE MORE to the Space Cadet types here on NBF who insist on being in willful denial about the REAL reason NASA exists nowadays (unlike during the Apollo Era) just as much as they are clueless about how government really works:

    The PTB don’t give a flying phuk about space, or going to the Moon or Mars or whatever. Not unless they can get a lot of pork and patronage out of it. And what I mean by that is get that P & P out of what to rape NOW…not 30 years from now when they can soak the colonists and corporations in space. N-O-W!

    So NOW essentially means “the existing pork farm that we’ve had for decades” when it comes to space and NASA, et al. Especially the ones who have bankrolled for decades the career of the current Senate Appropriations Chair.

    “There is no special interests lobbying for the future” — unknown

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  23. Why has SLS been controversial?

    The short answer is that the rocket was largely conceived in the U.S. Senate, so much so that it is derisively been called the “Senate Launch System.” The rocket has had an enormous budget (more than $12 billion and counting) and yet it has experienced ongoing delays. And it uses old technology—a similar approach that Apollo used to reach the Moon, with a large, expendable rocket that is neither cost-effective nor sustainable. In fact, the rocket uses surplus Space Shuttle main engines, which were designed to be reusable, but which with SLS will be thrown away after each launch.

    Additionally, by funding NASA to develop the SLS rocket, Congress prevented the agency from working on forward-looking technology like in-orbit refueling, propellant depots, space tugs, and other bits that would open up opportunities for a more economical space transportation system, and allow for the use of smaller, reusable rockets like those SpaceX has developed.

    …the SLS program has found its greatest support in the U.S. Senate, particularly from Alabama’s Richard Shelby, who now chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee. The Marshall Space Flight Center, which manages the SLS program for NASA, is located in Alabama.

    So far, Shelby is not on board with the plan proposed by Bridenstine. “While I agree that the delay in the SLS launch schedule is unacceptable, I firmly believe that SLS should launch the Orion,” he said, in a statement released to Ars.

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  24. Some capabilities must be maintained at any cost and must never be endangered by the vicissitudes of any investor or balance sheet.

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  25. NSF is saying there was a certain unsolicited bid to fly Orion commercially recently, from an unnamed company in LA…

    The running commentary is a stretched 2nd stage F9H fully reused for moon bound Orions, as Musk himself has said he is amenable to 2nd stage stretching. The braintrust also thought there might be the option of a 2 back-to-back flight EOR mission F9H using the existing second stage delivering a TLI stage separately, but there were some reservations over Orion having to go connect with it’s TLI stage.

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  26. So what are you proposing? Not criticizing SLS? If the horse is not completely dead, how can we transport it to the knackers? Instead of flogging is it time to put the horse out of our misery by posting illustrated comments comparing SLS to Space X. (Oh, that’s what we are seeing at this site.)

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  27. With 2-5 billions SpaceX could complete SH/SS, validate it and send humans to the Moon and Mars, with change to spare.

    I’m not a proponent of any kind of special treatment for anyone, but definitely it’s time to stop flogging the SLS dead horse.

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