back to article SLS goes vertical at Stennis while NASA practises SRB stacking

Engineers have lowered NASA's monster SLS core stage into the B-2 Test Stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was keen to share the good news with rocket fans as the massive booster took another tentative shuffle toward launch. The team has successfully lowered the @NASA_SLS core stage …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Trollface

    Pretty sure I've built that in KSP.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Yours had more struts.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Mine tend to explode. Even with ample amounts of struts

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Obviously need more struts.

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Not moving? More boosters.

            Moving in too many directions? More struts.

            Easy.

          2. imanidiot Silver badge

            At some point, more struts are not the solution. Things like turning sideways (or backwards) due to fucking up the CG and CoL can't be solved with struts. (Or long slender rockets going wonky and falling pray to the Kraken.)

          3. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

            >"need more struts"

            Brought to mind this scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9flhhwkTTA

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Exciting stuff

    I have very fond memories of the Apollo era. Fingers crossed for the upcoming tests

  3. Alister Silver badge

    Nice erection!

    ...apparently

  4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    It does sound like....

    NASA has alot of old bits lying around so instead of leaving it to rot in some warehouse, recycle it or box it off to museums, they've instead opted to juryrig the SLS together like a kid with a lego set and blow the lot (once they've managed their intended task first mind).

    Any plans on what happens post-SLS?

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: It does sound like....

      Post-SLS NASA will ceede human spaceflight to SpaceX (and maybe Blue Origin if they ever build a working rocket) to concentrate on probes and rovers.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: It does sound like....

        Probes and rovers are generally JPL's bag, not NASA.

    2. ClockworkOwl

      Re: It does sound like....

      This is basically Stephen Baxters BDB (Big Dumb Booster)

      Which was supposed to be a Shuttle main tank with SSMEs hacked onto the end...

      As for what's next, I'm looking forward to Peter Hamiltons "MacBoeings" :)

  5. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Anyone know how, between the block 1 and block 2 crew, they intend to increase thrust by 3million pounds* to 11.8 million pounds? Four R25s is 2 million pounds and the srbs are 3.6 million ponds each so that is one heck of a step to make.

    *sorry this is not in El Reg units. Perhaps one pound of thrust is generated by the hot air expelled by the Orange One during an average shouting session, sorry "speech" to his supporters? So the megaTrump would be a million pounds of thrust.

    How do you generate thrust? If you're orange, just purse your lips and bellow ...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      you anti-Trumpers just gotta get yer 'digs' in.... even with POSITIVE topics like launching more rockets to the moon, because HUMAN space exploration IS cool, and don't forget why NASA is actually DOING this (Trump, that's why).

      Using 'spare parts' like that is actually not a new concept from a sitting U.S. President. Reagan had the DOJ bring a few WW2 battleships out of mothballs, with modern weaponry and electronics, at a major overall cost savings, Same idea.

      icon, because, facepalm

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        If you had actually listened to your glorious leader ...

        Trump was against SLS because it is a really bad deal. He had to be talked out of cancelling it and, much to my surprise, seemed to understand why it SLS exists. In Trump's own words: "It is a jobs program". There is bi-partisan support for the pork rocket because bits of it are built in every state. Politicians on both sides can point at how much federal budget they are bringing to their state.

        I would love to blame Trump for failing to cancel SLS but Obama could not do it either. Obama mentioned the possibility and found out how badly he would get trounced by both by both sides if he ever spoke of it again.

        The reason NASA are doing SLS is because they are legally required to spend much of their budget on it. If they were actually using spare parts it would not be so bad. If you actually look at the parts, they are not quite the same as bits of shuttle. Each has had a change that sounds small but required a major redesign. Congress's eyes lit up at the words "much more money" and approved the budget.

        The Artemis missions were sold to Trump with the idea that there would be Americans back on the moon before then end of his second term. That might just happen but SLS (and LOPG) are a barrier to getting there.

        1. Long John Brass
          Devil

          Re: If you had actually listened to your glorious leader ...

          pork rocket

          Nyuck, nyuck, chortle

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: If you had actually listened to your glorious leader ...

            Pipe down, Finbarr ;-)

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: If you had actually listened to your glorious leader ...

            " pork rocket

            Nyuck, nyuck, chortle"

            Mythbusters demonstrated a salami powered rocket. So, not as far fetched as you might think :-)

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you had actually listened to your glorious leader ...

            > "pork rocket"

            Trump approved it after watching clips of the space documentary: Pigs in Space.

          4. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: If you had actually listened to your glorious leader ...

            "pork rocket"

            It's nickname is the Senate Launch System. It's not something that NASA wanted to build. The cost to engineer this beast to nowhere along with supporting a minuscule cadence takes away massive amounts of funding from the science programs they would like to advance. The rocket isn't optimum for any mission. They'll bodge together something to make some moon runs, but if it were done properly, the design brief would have going to the the moon as the primary driver of the design.

            The upside is that enough senators were paid off to keep the project from getting axed just after the next election cycle. That's a pretty common thing for NASA. If you can't get your mission substantially done before your patrons are up for re-election, chances are high that it will be scrapped and replaced with something that can be built in the next office holder's election district.

        2. bazza Silver badge

          Re: If you had actually listened to your glorious leader ...

          Apparently SLS will have more delta V than anything else, so it’s handy for lobbing heavy payloads quickly into deep space.

          I’m just not sure that there’s a big need for doing that. I’m pretty sure no one is actually going to try to get to Mars, or launch any deep space probe that big.

          Still, given that an SLS launch is likely to be one helluva noisy show, I’d very much like to see that.

          1. Tom Paine Silver badge

            Re: If you had actually listened to your glorious leader ...

            It would be really nice to send 10t payloads to Jupiter, Saturn and the outer planets. (Mars has been covered by more than 10t of orbiters and landers already.)

      2. nematoad Silver badge

        "Reagan had the DOJ bring a few WW2 battleships out of mothballs, with modern weaponry and electronics, at a major overall cost savings..."

        Yes, and what a good idea that was.

        In case you have forgotten there was the appalling incident onboard the USS Iowa BB61 on the 19th of April 1989 when the number 2 turret exploded killing 47 members of the crew. It later emerged that the ship was unsafe due to its age, this was aggravated by negligence on the part of members of the crew which led to a series of events that resulted in the detonation of the propellent charges due to over-ramming in the centre gun in turret 2.

        The Navy then engaged in a series of cover ups falsely blaming Gunners Mate Clayton Hartwig for the explosion until evidence emerged of all the mistakes in the turret.

        For a full explanation of this sorry affair I recommend reading A Glimpse of Hell by Charles C Thompson.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Hadn't forgotten, never knew about it so I had to look it up. And damn that's a shameful incident.

          I'd put in an explosion image to indicate my outrage on reading that, but it seems disrespectful and misplaced here...

    2. Spamfast
      Trollface

      Anyone know why, in this day and age, you're quoting thrust values in pounds?

      Oh yes, to quote AFF, "Americans can't handle the metric system."

      Pound isn't even a unit of force - it's a unit of mass. (And it's different in different systems just to add to the confusion.) The unit you need is lbf - which is the force experienced by an avoirdupois pound of mass under the influence of an arbitrariliy chosen strength gravitational field.

      Get with it guys. Almost the whole of the rest of the world uses SI units for science & engineering. They are unambiguous and make the arithmetic much easier, you know?

      Jeez - even the Brits have mostly switched to sensible units. (Although if you're asking, I'd rather have a pint than half a litre of beer, thanks.) ;-)

  6. Elledan Bronze badge

    Call me a negative Nancy, but I have this weird inkling that before SLS gets to do a proper test launch in 202x, it'll have been outclassed and outgunned by both SpaceX and Blue Origin.

    While SLS is decidedly interesting in a trainwreck-kind-of-sense, that's a lot of money being tossed at a collection of hardware that should be in a museum at this point, not on a launchpad.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge
      Coat

      Richard Feynman called the SSME the most complicated machine ever built, so why we would throw 4 of them away every time we launch something is beyond me.

      That said you might lash something like this together if you needed a huge deltaV in a hurry, say to deflect that extinction-level-event asteroid that was coming for us.

      [Yes, I am putting my winter coat on. No, I'm not expecting an asteroid.]

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        It would seem either Musk is VERY secretive with their landing tech for reusable hardware or NASA are too used to use once, polute forever, wherever it lands/burns tech which is increasingly looking antiquated.

        Even the beardie One's craft are reusable.

        Having in the past put old Scifi flicks with rockets landing fins down (cf Forbidden Planet for eg) as improbable I was suitably impressed by Space X cracking it. Rocket labs aren't there but they do it seems recover their tech from the Pacific for reuse if they can and by 3D printing the engines and proving it can work they seem to have done the world a favour.

        It means that if you can get a suitable 3D printer to Mars or wherever colonists can make their own tech to get off planet or at least put useful stuff* in orbit.

        *Like starlight blocking highly reflective short life comms sats of course. After all if you have built your habs by tunnelling into canyon sides you can't use line of sight, can you?

        1. Spamfast
          Headmaster

          old Scifi flicks with rockets landing fins down (cf Forbidden Planet for eg)

          Are you comparing as a counter-example or straight up? United Planets Cruiser C-57D in Forbidden Planet is a flying saucer. When landing it has some sort of energy field. No fins that I can see.

          The only other ship mentioned is the Bellerophon but we don't get to see that, since it blew up twenty years before.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Richard Feynman called the SSME the most complicated machine ever built, so why we would throw 4 of them away every time we launch something is beyond me."

        Money. Most answers come down to money and sometimes power.

        To recover a rocket, it takes mass to bring it down softly enough so that it's (hopefully) useable again. If you are expecting to reuse something, you build it a bit tougher so it last more cycles (more mass). There is liability with reusing rockets that aren't stripped down and thoroughly inspected. All additional mass has to be subtracted from the maximum payload. Parachutes seem like floaty ephemeral stuff until you try to move one of the monsters they use for a solid booster. There are then floatation devices to keep the spent rocket on the surface along with the gubbins to deploy all of this kit. When you look at the cost per kilo to put stuff in orbit, you quickly realize that a kg of added mass is a huge amount of money.

        The bonus is that by throwing away big complex chunks of machinery mean lots of employment in some politician's district. That politician will also receive campaign contributions with some percentage relationship to the pay out of the contracts.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Call me a negative Nancy

      Shirley, you don't mean that.

  7. Adair Silver badge

    The future here ...

    is looking more and more like the past.

    Sad really.

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: The future here ...

      Except the past was hell of a lot better. The 53 year old Saturn V didn't need a pair of fireworks strapped to the side to do the job.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: The future here ...

        "The 53 year old Saturn V didn't need a pair of fireworks strapped to the side to do the job."

        Solid boosters are used all over the place and are a good method of adding thrust right off of the pad where you don't need all of the control of a liquid fueled motor. I don't know if solid rockets were mature enough during the Apollo era to be considered for use with manned spacecraft.

        Solid boosters are dead simple and have great isp. The downside is they don't have an off switch and problems can be very catastrophic.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: The future here ...

          The big problem with solids and not being able to turn them off is that if you stick a capsule with people on top and something does go Kaboom that capsule will likely fall through a cloud of still burning solid rocket propellant chunks and debris, none of which are good for things like parachutes. (article here)

        2. Bobboh

          Re: The future here ...

          Long ago I would have agreed that solid boosters did not "have an off switch". But they have to be turned off somehow in order to be put on the right trajectory for an ICBM, and those have been solid state for many years now! I finally realized, and clearly others already had, that if you just "open up" the front end then the thrust goes to zero. That is not a simple switch, but it serves the purpose.

  8. duhmb

    In MY day

    We just threw away whole rockets and built new ones when we NEEDED them. None of this landing back down crap.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: In MY day

      OK boomer

      1. GrahamRJ
        Terminator

        Re: In MY day

        Other members of the Battlestar Galactica crew are available. (Icon because, well, spoilers in the unlikely case that anyone didn't see the remake.)

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: In MY day

        Surely "OK Boom-bang-a-banger"

  9. Neoc
    Coat

    <bounds in with a racket in his hand> Anyone for Stennis?

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