back to article Leaning tower of NASA receives last big arm

NASA's monster rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), took another tentative step towards lift-off yesterday as engineers fitted the last big umbilical arm to its launch tower. The arm was attached at the 240 feet (73m) level and will provide propellant, pneumatics and electrical connections to the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Mobile launcher

    Would be ideal for carrying the SLS from its new factory in Pennsylvania, where it will bring vital jobs to a depressed coal region, via West Kentucky (see above) and eventually to Florida *

    (*) final launch from Florida will be dependent on how they vote in future elections

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Mobile launcher

      Interesting idea except for the transport part. The thing won't fit under "normal" overpasses.

      1. hplasm Silver badge

        Re: Mobile launcher

        "The thing won't fit under "normal" overpasses."

        The latest overpasses fall down, so it can just go over the wreckage...

        (too soon?)

      2. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: Mobile launcher

        "Interesting idea except for the transport part. The thing won't fit under "normal" overpasses."

        Maybe they could fit some sort of rocket to it to hop over them?

    2. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: Mobile launcher

      Damn and blast.

      There was i envisaging millions of iPhones, Samsungs et al being launched into space never to be seen again.

      Preferably still being grasped by the hands of the many idiotic users.

      In fact, what a suitably good penalty for using a phone whilst driving on the road. Or, as frequently seen around these parts, driving on the pavements.

      1. rsole

        Re: Mobile launcher

        I see you've been reading the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy again.

  2. Stuart Halliday

    At the time, NASA told The Register: "The mobile launcher is built in accordance with standard steel construction code, including predicted, allowable deflection accounted for in the design."

    Scots Engineer - It's supposed tae dae that.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the passenger in the shuttle ?!

    "Also, unlike the SpaceX's reusability approach, NASA intends to dump the engines, which would have previously ***glided back attached to the rear of a Shuttle into the Atlantic***."

    1. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: And the passenger in the shuttle ?!


      Give oxford a call, there may be something missing they can provide.

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: And the passenger in the shuttle ?!

        re Alistair

        Wot? Like a capital O?

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: And the passenger in the shuttle ?!

        Sorry Alistair, but and* Oxford comma goes before a conjunction. I suggest a comma whose absence radically changes the meaning of a sentence be called a Staines comma after your illustrious namesake.

        *token mistake as required by all posts concerning grammar.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: And the passenger in the shuttle ?!

      apparently, the previous thought was to have 'some kind of a shuttle' to guide the boosters back to earth? Robot pilot?

      This is NASA's chance to make the case for their own launch system in competition with the private sector. Let's see how it works out.

      /me thinks that if SpaceX doesn't make a better one that is people-rated, someone else (besides NASA) will. because, as we all know (or should know), it takes a gummint to cost-bloat and delay a project into infinity (unless someone is watching VERY CAREFULLY and lighting a fire under their asses at every opportunity).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the passenger in the shuttle ?!

      I think Bahboh's point was about the missing comma:

      "Also, unlike the SpaceX's reusability approach, NASA intends to dump the engines, which would have previously glided back attached to the rear of a Shuttle into the Atlantic."

      should rather be:

      "Also, unlike the SpaceX's reusability approach, NASA intends to dump the engines, which would have previously glided back attached to the rear of a Shuttle, into the Atlantic."

      As for myself, I keep mind-boggling over the fact that this fancy new NASA rocket is being built with first stage engines derived from 1970s designs; good ones for sure: there's a lot to be said for sticking with tried-and-tested technology, and I'd happily bet it'll turn out reliable and perform as expected given the lessons learnt from the Space Shuttle programme. But surely there's got to be something better they could do by now? I don't know, something cheaper, something which can be re-used more conveniently than the Space Shuttle launch engines? Oh yeah, there is, and SpaceX is flying it...

      I'm sure the SLS will fly and that it will work properly, but I'm not at all sure it'll see a lot of service, not given the cost advantage SpaceX has.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And the passenger in the shuttle ?!

        No-one has been fired in govnm't for reusing safe old stuff that may also be somewhat expensive.

        Here is the late cold warrior Jerry Pournelle being nasty, on Sunday, February 25, 2007:

        We were not trying to boost space, we were trying to win the Cold War, and we were all agreed that the West ought to win the Cold War. We were agreed that it would be very good if low cost space came from that. Indeed, you can't do Strategic Defense without lowering the cost to orbit, just as you can't fly Air Mail without lowering the cost of air travel. However, I point out that giving NASA another $40 billion, or another $400 billion, would have done NOTHING AT ALL. NASA has always had plenty of money; funding levels are not much below those of Apollo days.. If NASA had more money they'd spend it on more bureaucracy.

        It was the SDIO that built DC/X and flew it many times. General Graham, Max Hunter, and I talked the head of SDIO (VP Dan Quayle in his capacity as Chairman of the National Space Council) into building the DC/X. It flew straight up, moved sideways, and landed on a tail of fire just as God and Robert Heinlein intended rockets to do. When NASA took DC/X over they burned it on the first flight. This isn't all coincidence. Proving that you don't need SuperShuttle is death to a NASA career. NASA and George Abbey make a career of owning access to space; they don't want you to have it without their permission. NASA is careful whom they allow into space, and if it were cheap to go there, they would have no control over access to space. NASA exists now primarily to pay the NASA bureaucracy and keep it busy ($100 billion for a couple of cans they call a space station that won't do what SKYLAB did a long time ago?). Giving NASA more money would not have build a space program.

  4. graeme leggett

    Prime TV opportunity

    "swinging away at launch in a manner that will delight those nostalgic for the old Saturn V."

    And if there's no one at NASA thinking of recreating a similar shot to those Saturn V launches, then they need a new media team...

  5. Korev Silver badge

    "Contractors have been keeping a close eye on the tower after it began to lean slightly towards where the SLS will stand"

    If their leaning tower is successful will they go out for Pisa to celebrate?

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      No, but...

      That's a very nice rocket you have there... shame if something were to happen to it. *sucks on cheap cigar*

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      "For a slight fee, we'll run some ropes from the top of it and tie them to some space grade steel beams driven into the ground over there. If they need tightening, give us call and we'll seen out our service team."

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge


    It is, however, unlikely that a crew will ever sit atop Musk's mighty missile.

    Is this specifically referring to the Falcon Heavy? 'Cos I'm pretty sure that Musk will have human-rated launches running in the not too distant future. Isn't that what Dragon capsules are for? And what the BFR will be for?

    Just followed the link and watched the SpaceX launch video again. <expletive deleted> amazing! Those two boosters coming down in and wow again.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Crew?

      They've said they're not going to bother trying to get the F9H passenger-rated because they're hoping that the BFR will be ready soon™ enough to make it a dead end. The Dragon crew capsules fit just fine on a Falcon 9 (which is getting man-rated), they don't need the extra boosters of the Heavy.

    2. Beachrider

      Re: Crew?

      Musk needs to get his rating with Dragon2 and Falcon9 before he can build with Dragon2 and FH. BFR would be another major step after that. Look for the first cert in the next 10 months (somewhere between August and January). FH has only one payload on its agenda (Air Force), and THAT doesn't have a timeframe, yet. BFR still awaits its first full-size rocket-build for testing, it is not likely to fly for 3+ years. I wish Elon well, but the commercial-market for FH-size loads has not-yet developed (probably because such launches were $400Mn+, previously).

  7. Camilla Smythe

    I see they're...

    Still building rusty rockets.

  8. x 7

    "................NASA intends to dump the engines, which would have previously glided back attached to the rear of a Shuttle into the Atlantic."

    Did you mean to imply that the Shuttles were glided into the Atlantic?

    1. T-Bo

      I got the impression that he was referring to the one Shuttle in particular.

      However, 'gliding' would hardly be an appropriate description for those engines' return to the Atlantic.

  9. Alastair MacDiarmid

    "Big Falcon Rocket, a vehicle yet to make its way off the drawing board", err, I think you'll find if you do some research the first BFR prototype components are in production now.

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