. 24/7 Space News .
NASA chief acknowledges more trouble with SLS rocket
By Ivan Couronne
Washington (AFP) March 13, 2019

The US space agency NASA on Wednesday cast a shadow on the future of its new heavy-lift rocket, the SLS -- acknowledging development delays on a project that is already years behind.

The Space Launch System program is being run much as the Apollo and space shuttle mission were handled in the days of old.

But Wednesday's announcement illustrates how quickly NASA has embraced a new era dominated by private space companies who are offering the option of low-cost transport on a mission-by-mission basis.

"SLS is struggling to meet its schedule" and won't be ready in time for a first unmanned mission around the Moon and back, dubbed EM-1, set for June 2020, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told lawmakers.

"Last week, it came to our attention that we're not going to be able to maintain the schedule," which is already three years behind, he told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Boeing has spent years developing the SLS, which would be the most powerful rocket ever built, with the goal of resuming manned space missions to the Moon. The project has already cost $12 billion.

A capsule for astronauts, Orion, is being built by Lockheed-Martin and Europe for the missions.

Wednesday marked the first time that NASA has clearly acknowledged the extent of the problems with the SLS.

That news did not surprise industry analysts, who have signaled problems with the development of the SLS for years.

Boeing is using more than 1,000 subcontractors in 43 US states to get the job done. That translates to thousands and thousands of jobs.

Congress initially wanted a first flight in late 2016. NASA then pushed back the date little by little.

But Bridenstine then made the shocking announcement that he wants to entrust the EM-1 mission to existing private launch systems, instead of waiting for SLS to be ready.

"We have amazing capability that exists right now that we can use off the shelf in order to accomplish this objective," he said.

He did not specify which private company he had in mind, but SpaceX -- founded by billionaire Elon Musk -- would be a natural candidate with its Falcon Heavy rocket.

The Delta IV Heavy of United Launch Alliance -- a joint venture of Lockheed and Boeing -- also would be a capable alternative.

- Congress will have to decide -

The new plan would consist of launching the Orion capsule, and then following it up with the launch of an upper stage for propulsion.

The two elements would then dock in orbit for the voyage around the Moon.

No rocket in existence today is capable of lifting both elements together, because of their weight, which is why NASA had said it needed the more powerful SLS.

"I want to be clear, we do not have right now an ability to dock the Orion crew capsule with anything in orbit. So between now and June of 2020, we would have to make that a reality," Bridenstine said.

One skeptical senator reminded him: "This is 2019...."

Bridenstine replied: "NASA has a history of not meeting launch dates, and I'm trying to change that."

The administration of President Donald Trump has made it clear that it is unhappy with all the delays.

In its budget proposal unveiled on Monday, the government wants to let the private sector launch the components of the mini-space station, dubbed the Gateway, that NASA wants to put in orbit around the Moon in the 2020s.

It also decided that private companies would launch a probe towards Jupiter's moon Europa.

Both of those missions were initially expected to be carried out using the SLS.

In the end, Congress will have to decide whether to pass the space budget as is or request changes that would preserve the SLS program's place in upcoming missions.

Producing the SLS in 43 states means 86 senators have something to lose if the SLS program goes south, leading some snarky commentators to label it the "Senate Launch System."

The budget for 2020 should be adopted in the coming months.

Related Links
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

Thanks for being there;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

China developing key technologies on heavy-lift rocket
Xichang (XNA) Mar 12, 2019
China has made significant progress in the development of the key technologies of the heavy-lift carrier rocket, the Long March-9, which is expected to make its maiden flight around 2030. The development of the heavy-lift rocket will greatly improve China's capacity of entering outer space. The Long March-9 rocket will support China's space industry development, utilization of space resources and deep space exploration, said experts from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. The ro ... read more

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Astronauts who survived Soyuz scare ready for new launch despite glitches

Launch vehicle with Soyuz MS-12 CTS is on the launch pad

Out of This World Auction Sponsored by ARISS

ISS Multilateral Coordination Board Joint Statement

ESA greenlight for UK's air-breathing rocket engine

Russia's New Hypersonic Nuclear Weapon

NASA chief acknowledges more trouble with SLS rocket

China developing key technologies on heavy-lift rocket

Opportunity's parting shot was a beautiful panorama

SWIM Project Maps Potential Sources of Mars Water

Major challenges to sending astronauts to search for life on Mars

Researchers outline goals for collecting and studying samples from Mars

Super-powerful Long March 9 said to begin missions around 2030

China preparing for space station missions

China's lunar rover studies stones on moon's far side

China improves Long March-6 rocket for growing commercial launches

Lockheed Martin develops world-first LTE-Over-Satellite System

China launches new communication satellite

ESA helps business fly in space

Space workshops to power urban innovation

CesiumAstro raises $12M to develop faster comms for aerospace platforms

S.Africa medics use 3-D printer for middle ear transplant

Common foundations of biological and artificial vision

Ultrathin and ultrafast: Scientists pioneer new technique for two-dimensional material analysis

SETI Institute: Agreement with Unistellar to Develop Citizen Science Network

K stars more likely to host habitable exoplanets

UK to tackle danger of solar wind and find new Earth-like planets

"Goldilocks" Stars May Be "Just Right" for Finding Habitable Worlds

Ultima Thule in 3D

SwRI-led New Horizons research indicates small Kuiper Belt objects are surprisingly rare

Astronomers Optimistic About Planet Nine's Existence

New Horizons Spacecraft Returns Its Sharpest Views of Ultima Thule

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.