11 thoughts on “Lori Pulls No Punches”

  1. Well, we can conclude from this that Lori has no hopes of getting any appointment in the Biden administration. A good article but it mistakenly describes Falcon Heavy as “in development’. Probably they wonted to say Super-Heavy.

  2. One problem is that the SLS won’t have much of a payload advantage over Starship.

    What Nelson needs to do is look at what made the Falcon 9 so successful and copy it, while still retaining some of the features that only NASA’s experience can provide. So I’m thinking he might shift gears and give us something better.

    Increase the core diameter from 8.4 meters to 12 meters, for twice the fuel load per meter of height. The Ares V, which he supported, was 10 meters, but that design is long obsolete. NASA needs to keep moving forward on core diameter.

    Use 9 RS-25’s on the first stage instead of four. SpaceX showed that using nine engines lowers cost, and that allowed them to dominate the commercial space launch business. There’s no way 9 RS-25’s won’t be cheaper than 4, once you do enough budgetary math.

    Increase the SRB diameter to visually match the bigger core, so the stack still looks powerful. Nothing has the wow factor of two great big SRB’s.

    Have Japan and Russia join with the Europeans in designing a much larger upper stage, so there’s always a major performance upgrade in the works, forever.

    1. 9RS-25’s on a 12m diameter booster? You are going to need a pretty large ship to recover that fly back booster. Do you think NASA should go with Newport News or Ingalls? Oh, what I’m thinking, it is NASA, so got to go with Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin. They could budget a ship like that for about $200 million.

      1. Flyback booster? Who said anything about trying to land it?

        There’s no way the core could possibly survive re-entry because it is made out of aluminum covered in thick foam, and it stages far too late, making re-entry velocities extremely high.

        But the Falcon 9 was dominating the market before they even tried recovering the first stage, whereas the Falcon 5 was cancelled because, well, 9 engines are bound to be cheaper!

        I figure eight years to transition to the pointlessly larger core diameter (the payload of either diameter seems to be, well, zero), plus five years of extra schedule slips, plus two years in limbo, would add 15 years worth of make-work jobs to the program.

        I know there are doubters out there who watched that first green run test fire and probably likened the SLS to the Titanic, but unlike the Titanic, the SLS isn’t trying to be re-usable and will probably never carry passengers. And they are confident they can send it to the bottom of the ocean on each flight attempt.

        1. Flyback booster? Who said anything about trying to land it?

          The Wisconsin congressional delegation, but if you wish to propose a salvage vessel to clean up the mess SLS makes before it destroys the oceans; they are listening.

    2. Hydrogen is a terrible fuel for a first stage. That was a problem for SLS, and would be a problem with any replacement which uses hydrogen-burning engines.

      1. Delta IV is a dumb design. If the first stages were kerelox, a booster it’s size could orbit waay more. The Delta Heavy could likely do 75 tons to LEO if it’s booster stages weren’t fluffy hydrogen.

        It’s truly pathetic for its size due to hydrogen boosters. And low efficiency hydrogen booster engines. The worst of all worlds.

    3. What Nelson needs to do is look at what made the Falcon 9 so successful and copy it

      Or even better, just buy a bunch of Falcon 9 launches and do something in space.

  3. Note the implicit assumption that having an administrator that can get more funding for NASA istrinsically a good thing.

    Not that I wouldn’t mind more Discovery class missions or more advanced propulsion research at MSFC, but I think we all know where the extra funding Nelson would likely be buttonholing Joe for would be going.

  4. Gotta love this guy’s reaction:

    Simon Porter, an astrophysicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, tweeted that Nelson’s major policy achievements were “A) getting a joyride of Shuttle and B) creating the largest money pit in NASA’s history.”

    Nelson’s nomination was “a very stupid and retrogressive move by the Biden Administration,” he added in another tweet.

    1. You should go read Simon’s Twitter feed for the last week. He’s been saying even more savage things than that.

      Though now that I go and look, I see he’s protected his tweets. I guess he got some blowback at the office.

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