6 thoughts on “A Sustainable Lunar Architecture”

  1. Well, SLS was directly referred to by Mark Geyer. Just going by what Berger has in the article, it looks like NASA leadership views SLS as something out of their control but also with a limited life span.

    Since congress doesn’t want to cancel SLS/Orion/LOP-G, what is the best use of it for the limited number of launches the system has before it runs out of engines? Maybe there is no “best” use just a use. I wonder what they would use LOP-G for once SLS isn’t there to dictate its orbit?

    As long as the public private partnership track is fully funded and moving forward, I am not too concerned about SLS/Orion/LOP-G. SLS is certainly a waste of money that could be spent more wisely but it will eventually fall under its own weight.

    The real question here is what the PPP track will look like for cislunar space aside from LOP-G? And how will the approach enable commercial partners to engage in commerce rather than just serve the government?

  2. I didn’t have much of an opinion one way or the other regarding Mr. Bridenstine when he was nominated, but the more I hear from his as Administrator, the more I like.

    It is a shame that he wasn’t given the autonomy of choosing his own Deputy Administrator, particularly when he intentionally chose someone whose strengths balanced his weaknesses.

  3. In the great Kabuki play that is government policy production, this is a big deal. We’ve now gone from “SLS is the platform for deep space exploration”, to “SLS is a strategic asset because we’ll need to launch bulky/heavy things”, to Bridenstine saying “reusable launchers are the main platform, but we still need SLS just in case we have bulky/heavy things that reusables can’t launch”.

    That’s huge progress. He seems determined to kick the legs out from under SLS one at a time. He’s obviously not yet prepared to kick that last leg out and make Boeing Space find some other, more productive way to justify its existence, but the day is coming. Boeing can be under no illusions that it’s coming. Hopefully, they’re working on a Plan B. Plan B is a lot more likely to be a semi-reasonable use of taxpayer money than SLS.

  4. I think Bridenstine is going as far out on the thin branches as he can, politically – without more energetic intervention by his boss. He certainly represents a shift from Bolden in how he talks about this, and that may be moving the needle ever so slightly.

    In the end, the success of commercial heavy launchers will doom SLS. We just don’t know how long it will take. Sources at Blue Origin said yesterday, for example, that New Glenn’s debut may slip to 2021. And Blue Origin will be a major player in this process. We really need (though we should not need) two commercial heavy launchers in operation to close the case against SLS on the Hill, I’m afraid.

    But think about that. It’s spring 2021. New Glenn has finally launched. Falcon Heavy has been flying for three years. Commercial Crew vehicles have been flying to ISS for two years. SLS is still struggling to get its first uncrewed test flight off the ground. Even Richard Shelby is going to be on his back foot at that point.

    1. In the end, the success of commercial heavy launchers will doom SLS. We just don’t know how long it will take.

      Thankfully SpaceX is moving forward without NASA in some areas so NASA can’t meddle in everything. I wonder if BO regrets getting entangled with the government so much or if getting entangled is their business model.

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