Space Launch System Successfully Launched

NASA has successfully launched an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a 26-day mission around the Moon and back to Earth. During #Artemis I, Orion will lift off aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and travel 280,000 miles (450,000 km) from Earth and 40,000 miles (64,000 km) beyond the far side of the Moon, carrying science and technology payloads to expand our understanding of lunar science, technology developments, and deep space radiation.

The total spent on SLS will be about $27 billion if it launches in August, 2022. $23 billion in 2021 dollars have been spent for development from 2011 to 2021. They are spending at a rate of $2.5 billion per year. On top of this, the costs to assemble, integrate, prepare and launch the SLS and its payloads are funded separately under Exploration Ground Systems, currently at about $600 million per year. Six years of working to assemble and prep for launch will be about $2 billion if they launch in August 2022. This also does not include funds for the Orion capsule development or about $10 billion for the preceding Constellation project which was using pretty much the same contractors working to reconfigure Shuttle era components and technology. they were re-arranging some Shuttle parts into an Apollo rocket-style configuration.

In November 2021, a new NASA Office of Inspector General audit estimated that the first four launches of SLS would cost $2.8 billion. $2.2 billion plus $568 million for Exploration Ground Systems. These would be for the Artemis program so the payload would cost $1 billion for Orion and $300 million for the ESA service module. This would be a budgeted $4 billion per SLS launch.

11 thoughts on “Space Launch System Successfully Launched”

  1. It already is not a NASA vs SpaceX thing. There is not even a race, except in the bureaucrats’ minds.

    This rocket represents the monumental effort made by the government to maintain the Shuttle jobs, critical to some politicians careers. Its functionality of launching to space is just a secondary yet annoying consideration.

    Thankfully, it worked. But it might as well RUD and grind the program to a halt for several more years. But that eventuality won’t change the objective of SLS being essentially a jobs program.

    While SpaceX is gearing its rockets to be the new workhorse of the space economy, and they accept failures now because they want it to work flawlessly later.

    They will start slow, with expendable launches not unlike this one, then pick up the pace, landing them and then reusing them fully, with an even faster pace. And then, it will be a whole other game.

    NASA is actually helping this to happen regardless of the politicians wishes, by accepting Starship already for Artemis. Because they still have people that want to actually see humanity go to live in space.

  2. Well if NASA, the PR face of space technology, can finally contribute to establishing and publicizing an upcoming, cislunar industrialized spacecraft community, then we know we are achieving the early stages of a full-time space busines sector. From monopolist to manager to supporting actor (with tax money control), NASA’s preferred role is less clear – delegator of public money? champion of simple/ local manned missions and high profile exploratory robot craft/observatories? Co-conspirator with FAA? Of course, we all wish that the public money would go directly to the most efficient actor…

  3. It’s worth pointing out that despite the antiquated technology, cost and time overruns, it was Artemis that made the first return journey to the Moon, not SpaceX. SpaceX has indisputably made major contributions in terms of reusability and cost reductions, but it’s telling that NASA chose old tried-and-proven technology to go back to the Moon, and that SpaceX’s largest rocket can’t store enough fuel to make it to the Moon and back again, perhaps sacrificing fuel capacity for payload (Teslas are range-restricted too).

    • If you count the legacy hardware, this launch vehicle has been in development for a half century. SpaceX has oriented their entire company architecture towards Mars, not Lunar, so it’s not really bragging to say NASA took 50 years to get back to the Moon when SpaceX hasn’t been seriously looking at Lunar missions until a few years ago.

        • He’s just being difficult.
          Starship is probably why we even had a Red Team…and the Moonshot might make Elon forget Twitter (his SLS) and take a more active hand in rocketry again.

          SLS and Starship make each other better in competition.

  4. The problems with weather were excruciating. I suggest enclosing the rocket with four walls,
    which should be lowered just before launch like moat bridges. I dont think it should be too costly, compared to the money already spent. If you think it is a foolish idea, I’d like to know why.

  5. Congratulations!
    It comes with a price, but now we are assured that humanity is now free from delpendance on the Musk.

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