The Space Launch System (SLS) will not have a first flight until 2022 or later after it had an unsuccessful full engine hold down test.
The SLS program was started in 2010 by President Obama and original had a Dec, 2016 date for an operational rocket. In 2011, NASA Director Bill Gerstenmaier said a test flight would occur at the end of 2017. Internal and external audits estimated a development cost of $18 billion through that mission, including Orion and ground systems infrastructure. SLS was after about $10 billion was spent on the Constellation program. Constellation and SLS involved the same companies trying to take Space Shuttle engines and reconfiguring them into an Apollo like rocket.
In 2018, VP Mike Pence talked about a 2020 first flight for SLS as the start of the Artemis human moon program. Over twice the $18 billion estimate has been spent on SLS.
New simulations and studies show that SLS cannot launch the Europa clipper mission without a costly redesign of the Europa Clipper (mission to Jupiter’s moon). The SLS would cause a lot of vibration to the Europa Clipper.
This has caused an open bid for a commercial rocket to do what the SLS cannot. There is currently only one rocket that can perform the Europa Clipper mission. The rocket is the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. A Delta IV would only be able to launch the mission using a slingshot around Venus.
Certain people in Congress want the United Launch Alliance Vulcan and the Blue Origin New Glenn rockets to be considered. Neither rocket has flown or been tested.
FAA Space Division Delays the Second SpaceX High Altitude Starship Test
The FAA has delayed the SpaceX SN9 Starship test flight. There is not a good reason for this delay and Elon Musk tweeted his frustration.
Unlike its aircraft division, which is fine, the FAA space division has a fundamentally broken regulatory structure.
Their rules are meant for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities. Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2021
Innovation must overcome very bad rules and very bad decisions. Progress needs to reach a level where bad decision makers do not have control.
SOURCES- FAA, Planetary Society, SpaceX, Elon Musk Twitter
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.