My Thoughts On Artemis

They haven’t changed with the success of this mission. It would have been a shock if, after all the money they’ve spent, and schedule delays, it hadn’t been successful.

[Monday-morning update]

Here is Eric Berger’s take, FWIW.

[Update a while later]

Scanning through the (as usual, largely ridiculous) comments over there, it strikes me that the real race between SpaceX and SLS was not whether SS/SH would fly before SLS, but whether SpaceX will send people around the moon before Artemis II. I think it’s quite likely.


[Afternoon update]

Looking for the “S” word in Artemis.

17 thoughts on “My Thoughts On Artemis”

  1. About the first time a crew gets stranded at the gateway, should it get that far. If we’re lucky SpaceX could send a rescue mission or just send crew back on a refueled Artemis lander (aka Starship).

    Personally I don’t think it will get that far. If SpaceX can do lunar landings using their own hardware, on their own dime, that’ll pretty much end Artemis.

    dearMoon will be the SpaceX reprise of Apollo 8.

  2. Back in the day, some people joked that the F-4 Phantom II fighter was proof that with enough thrust, you can make anything fly. SLS is proof that with enough taxpayer money and time, you can eventually fly a successful mission. It doesn’t mean it’s a viable or sustainable space system.

    1. with enough thrust, you can make anything fly.

      Dave’s First Rule of Rocketry*.

      *For some reason Estes wouldn’t make my rule part of their FAQs. I have no idea why.

      1. Is that like Paul’s Rule of Fine Dining

        With enough garlic-lemon-butter sauce, a person can eat an old gym shoe?

        1. My only rule about fine dining out is:
          If the wait-person remarks: My doesn’t that look good? when they bring your meal to your table, run, don’t walk, to the exit. They saw it being prepared, you didn’t.

          Also, based on experience, don’t eat fish dinners that include flys instead of fries.

  3. And so for something north of $41B (Forty One Billion) they’ve flown one vehicle. By their own accounting, I think it’s north of $51B.

    I ran into one of the PMs a few years ago in a local subway, and discussed it while we were in line. My question was how you can call it a program when it only launches one vehicle every two to four years? It hurt his feelings.

    I’ll let it go at that. Never mind my feelings about the waste of my money.

    1. Reminds me of my time growing up in the mid-west when I flunked Methodist catechism class. Don’t ask about Seth’s wife….

    2. More to the point, you have to wonder how a vehicle flown at such a low cadence could ever achieve an adequate level of safety.

      Block 5 Falcon 9 flies about every 5-6 days. Not a surprise, maybe, that it has a flawless performance record. Little wonder, too, that NASA has such high confidence putting its astronuats on top of one.

      1. How many people are employed at the Cape to prepare the SLS for flight? What will they be doing for the next year or two while waiting for the next launch?

          1. SRB segments for Artemis 2 should arrive for pre-stacking processing in a little over a year’s time, then begin stacking on the ML a few months after that.
            CS-2 is scheduled to arrive at KSC this coming spring.
            ML-1 will be starting modifications for the crew emergency escape system and other small mods in just a few weeks.
            Will then roll to 39-B to test all those mods and to verify the new LH2 tank at 39-B, for better schedule flexibility in the event of a scrub.
            There’s also ML-2 construction starting up, integration on the core stage engine sections for Artemis 3&4, Orion production, intergration and testing over at the O&C building for Artemis 2, 3 and 4
            Plenty of work for the next year or so, before they begin stacking Artemis 2 sometime in the first half of 2024.
            Depends on where NASA’s reassessed Artemis 2 launch date will land with Artemis 1 under their belt.

    3. Will be flying about once a year after the first few flights are done.
      There’s now a push to get that to 2 per year with optimized vehicle production and through more efficient contracting (EPOC+DST).

      Until Artemis 4 the cadence will be ~1/2 years but SLS production won’t be the bottleneck for any of those 2 year gaps.
      Artemis 2 has the Orion avionics dependency with Artemis 1which leads to the awkward gap between flights, even though all the SLS hardware will be ready to stack in the VAB just a few months from now.
      Artemis 3 will have the issue of having to wait for HLS/xEVA/Gateway development to give the SLS/Orion a worthy destination in NRHO. Once again, hardware will be complete well ahead of time for SLS/Orion.
      Artemis 4 has the problem of having to wait for ML-2 to be available to support stacking of the first SLS Block 1B vehicle.
      Once again SLS/Orion hardware for that mission are expected to be ready years before ML-2 will be ready (2025 vs 2028)
      Once all these schedule bottlenecks are behind them, SLS production becomes the main factor in Artemis launch cadence, and that is already almost at 1/year, with CS-2 delivery in Q2 2023, CS-3 in 2024 and CS-4 in 2025 etc
      NASA and Boeing expect that could go over 2 per year with recent changes to the core stage assembly process, with standalone engine section integration moving to KSC.
      I’m sure that PM had plenty to be mad about from such a misled and toxic statement.

  4. Artemis is the best example of the problems with DoD/NASA procurement designed to appease Congress and spread the contracts. It would be a successful program if it exposed what a disaster our procurement system is that creates a bloated program like this (as it does with stuff like F-22, F-35, CVNs, DDGs, Tanks, APCs, etc.). It could easily be less about NASA/SpaceX if NASA could operate like SpaceX. Yet that will never happen, because NASA is a government agency that must spread the wealth, rather than a commercial endeavor that creates wealth.

  5. Berger has been an excellent reporter, but his post-flight enthusiasm for the SLS/Orion combo is starting to be a bit much. He sees it as the “on-ramp” for more efficient, less costly vehicles. I hope so, and certainly the additional funding towards Starship capabilities is good. But NASA is still talking 4B/flight for SLS/Orion plus that awkward Gateway -dependent architecture.How many people want to bet that Boeing will get at most 10% “savings” with the new long term purchase agreement (er, I meant travesty).

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