6 thoughts on “SLS”

  1. It is the partner nations own damn fault. CNES proposed a reusable LOX/Methane fly-back first stage launcher over a decade ago.
    But the French defense industry was more interested in keeping the solid rocket technology base up to date and the Germans were more interested in spending as little R&D money as possible.

    Heck they designed an expander cycle upper stage engine and it has been languishing for over a decade on a shelf somewhere because they could not be assed to fund an upper stage that used it.

    1. Yes. The Euros fundamentally misread the tea leaves, imagining that the future would simply be a slightly modified version of the past and then-present. Fundamentally misreading the lea leaves has been more than amply demonstrated to be one of Europe’s core incompetencies this past century or so. In their defense I suppose one should allow for the fact that they were also assuming NASA would successfully continue its decades-long practice of keeping the entrepreneurial hoi polloi out of the space arena in any consequential way.

  2. If we want to talk about more disaster programs. The Angara is still being funded at the same time as the Soyuz 5 will be developed. From what I heard the delays for the Angara were because the Russian government slowed the funding for Angara down to a trickle. Supposedly they have since increased funds for it. But AFAIK the only Angara launch site is at Plesetsk. Bonkers.

    Once Soyuz 5 is developed, what will be the point in having Angara? Soyuz 5 is rumored to use 2 MN engines i.e. the RD-193.

    Then there is the Chinese space program where they have built their equatorial launch site but still have issues with the heavy launcher LM-5 and supposedly some had some issues with the engines.

    1. The Russians are fading fast. Arch-fabulist-in-chief Dmitri Rogozin says Russia will launch 45 times this year. Right. It’s already the second week of February, Russia has launched nothing yet in 2019 and has only two launches scheduled in each of Feb. and Mar. – half of which are Euro-Soyuzes for OneWeb deployment out of Kourou. At this rate, Russia will be doing well to match last year’s launch total, never mind more than doubling same. Rogozin will probably be gone before year’s end, assuming Putin can find someone else dumb enough to take the Roscosmos job.

      Angara, Soyuz 5 and the notional Russian super-heavy (SLS-ski) all seem to be slipping rightward at roughly one year per year and show no real evidence of any traction being gained. The same is true of an all-Russian LEO station, the new manned capsule and the notional Russian lunar program.

      The Chinese are, for the moment anyway, on firmer fiscal ground but haven’t exactly had everything going their way in the last couple years. The Chang’e-3 and -4 missions have been impressive, but Long March 5 is on the critical path from here on out and its future is indeterminate as of now. Another six month slip recently announced does not inspire confidence that CASC has its hands fully around the Long March 5’s problems yet.

  3. One of the things Trump said during his SOTU speech was about going back to space in American rockets. He did not say “NASA rockets”.

    This is probably wishful thinking on my part, but it makes me wonder if he’s thinking of cutting SLS.

    BTW, even if SLS isn’t cut, I’m wondering if SpaceX’s BFS (or Starship, or whatever they’ve named it this week) will reach orbit before SLS, because there is no way, no how, SLS flies in 2020, and I don’t think 2021 is possible either. My guess is late 2023 at the earliest.

    1. I’m pretty much with you on this. SLS has been noteworthy for being damned with faint praise by the Trump administration. Bridenstine seems to mention it only when asked. He makes all the usual noises on such occasions, but one senses that he’s waiting for SH-Starship to fly to orbit almost as eagerly as Elon Musk. That event would provide adequate political cover to cancel SLS and Orion – especially should it occur before SLS’s first launch.

      Trump and Bridenstine are both looking for the biggest big things they can get anent space during the remainder of Trump’s first term. I think both now see that SLS isn’t going to be on that list. If Musk can get a Starship into orbit and back down again in one piece early enough in 2020, Trump and Bridenstine will have their Big Thing in Space for re-election year and Musk and Trump’s early-days falling out over climate change will be shoved forcibly into the background – especially if U.S. government checks for Starship missions are promptly forthcoming.

      Anent the date of the notional SLS first launch, I’m with you that any date in 2020 is unmakeable and even 2021 is looking increasingly iffy. Not sure I’d go so far as to say 2023 myself, but, if my above speculations come to actually pass, it will be a moot point anyway as SLS will, in consequence, never fly at all.

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