Im inclined to agree with the mood of the twitter responses.
El Reg staff: we *absolutely* need a popcorn icon.
The management of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is to be audited by the agency's watchdog. The probe was announced in a tweet by NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), and is sure not to have ruined the morning coffee of Uncle Sam's army of scientists. The SLS mega-rocket is supposed to take space adventurers to the …
Except ULA aren't actually building it.
Did you not know this?
While it's true ULA holds basically all the big rocket experience of Boeing and LM Boeing has the contract for SLS and LM the Orion capsule (they had to get the Service Module as a barter deal from ESA because they'd p**sed away all the budget for that already).
Yes ULA should have been the only sensible candidate for the SLS contract.
But sensible has f**k all to do with this. And won't until the Senators of Utah and Alabama change.
BTW using current US LV's (which will be available for the foreseeable future) the US can put about 138 tonnes into LEO within 10 days
No rocket development budget needed.
With some work that can be got down to 7 days.
If you figure out a way to split that into standard sized and mass units (about 6250Kg) you don't need them to be adapted to any particular launcher. 1 unit for Antares, multiple for F9, Atlas V, Delta IV Heavy.
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.
Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.
OIG! OIG! Snuffles.
The government has spent billions and long years to develop the SLS and is not yet ready to launch. Now SpaceX with very little money has already launched a missile with greater lift capacity than SLS and at a much lower cost. But the SLS will not be ready for a couple more years. There should be an investigation and maybe some heads should also role.
Now SpaceX with very little money has already launched a missile with greater lift capacity than SLS
Falcon Heavy is rated at 64 t (fully expendable) while SLS's lightest configuration (Block 1) is currently designed to lift 70 t.
Although I suppose, technically, you could say that SLS currently has a payload of 0 t...
Not a technicality.
As of right now the payload to LEO for an FH is 64t (It's flown) and the SLS payload is 0 tonnes.
Deciding that putting humans on top of a 5 segment SRB (Aries 1) wasted a shedload of money.
Then "discovering" that the SSME's could not be made to light at altitude (despite Rocketdyne swearing that was possible 10 years earlier), which both companies planned to use, p**sed away a few $Bns more.
Basically there have been some very stupid decisions made on this programme.
Take the politics out of NASA and the things it is trying to get done and that would lower the cost. Unfortunately given that most of the political support is tied to contracts going to particular companies and places regardless of efficiency, the costs were always going to rise but they didn't need to rise by that much.
as an across-the-pond observer how NASA is supposed to have any strategy when successive administrations want to go to the moon, to Mars, to the Moon, to harvest asteroids, etc?
Or are these over-runs completely divorced from the constant changing targets or too great to be accounted for by that?
and spent far, far more developing a dangerous vehicle that could carry only a tiny load and then only into LEO. They spent so much money on it, it became too expensive to fail so they built the thing anyway.
But they beat their drum and tried to sell the idea that this was more sensible than continuing with Apollo, making the Saturn VIII and Nova rockets from that technology (as per Soyuz)
They've now spent a fortune on developing Apollo 2.0 and that's getting to the tipping point whereby it's too expensive to fail so they'll plod on regardless. The Space station will have been ditched into the ocean before it does anything and they'll just keep reinventing the wheel with public money as before.
NASA's space launch department has got Titanic issues.
The single largest one is denial.
They just can't come to grips with the reality that private efforts have now become the dominant method for developing new advanced launch technology.
SLS is just the poster child for the old way of doing things. A scientific welfare system in bad disguise.
It would be just as effective and financially responsible to simple contract Blue Origins and SpaceX to develop variants of their flagship vehicles for use by NASA.
But at this point, it's obvious that "The Niel (a.k.a Denial) is not just a place in Egypt".
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