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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Space Launch System Program is Finally Slowly Dying

•, by Brian Wang

This will be a $331 million contract and will use a modified version of the Falcon Heavy. NASA is finally on the path to getting rid of the launch system waste of over 10% of its budget. NASA is still ramping up to waste money on an expensive and mostly useless International Space Station (ISS) in high lunar orbit.

The SLS launch system is the third iteration of efforts to convert and reconfigure the 1980s Space Shuttle components into an Apollo rocket stack. The previous version of the program (called Constellation) had one launch with a lot of problems. The new program had a one-minute hold-down test instead of an eight-minute test. Over $20 billion has been spent on SLS and over $10 billion was spent on the Constellation program. They are now spending $3 billion per year and the first launch and one of only three launches might start next year. This would be over 6 years later than the original plan.

If there are three launches with SLS, then the contractors will need to get paid until 2025 and receive another $10 billion. This will mean SLS will have been paid over $10 billion per launch. This would be over forty times the cost of the modified SpaceX Falcon Heavy. There is a non-zero chance that the first test launch does not happen. There is also even higher likelihood that the SLS program loses the two Artemis missions as well. If SpaceX gets to orbit with the Super Heavy Starship in 2022, then SLS could lose its final two Artemis missions.

The SLS program should have been canceled years ago when the SpaceX Falcon Heavy successfully flew. SLS should be canceled now. If it were canceled we could speed up the SpaceX Super Heavy Starship program and get dozens of SpaceX Falcon Heavy missions.