NASA plan for giant deep space rocket

NASA has unveiled plans for a mammoth deep-space rocket to carry astronauts to the moon, Mars and other destinations beyond the International Space Station.

The rocket project would cost $10 billion through 2017, when the first test flight of the Space Launch System is scheduled to take place from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Another $6 billion is allotted to building the Orion deep-space crew capsule, a holdover from the defunct Constellation moon exploration initiative canceled by the Obama administration. NASA already has spent $5 billion on Orion.

In addition, $2 billion would be spent to refurbish NASA’s Florida spaceport to accommodate the new rocket.

The new rocket is based on the space shuttle’s liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engines and fuel tanks, coupled initially with upgraded solid-fuel shuttle booster rockets that also were developed under Constellation…

The rocket would be more powerful than the Apollo-era Saturn booster that carried crews and equipment to the moon between 1969 and 1972…

The announcement follows a year-long tussle with Congress over the project’s cost, scope and technical parameters. The Obama administration withheld its plans while it obtained an independent cost estimate for the Space Launch System…

Compared with the now-retired space shuttle, which could carry about 50,000 pounds to an orbit about 300 miles from Earth, the new booster is intended to lift as much as 140,000 pounds of cargo.

Future versions would have nearly twice the lift capacity for missions into deep space.


24 thoughts on “NASA plan for giant deep space rocket

  1. Update says:

    NASA just announced in a blog post that SLS will cost 30% more (8/28/20)

    Space Launch System Project cost: US$18.6 billion (as of 2020).
    Cost per launch: Over US$2 billion excluding development.
    Cost per year: US$2.5 billion for 2020.

    “NASA and the SLS prime contractor Boeing are no longer competing with the Falcon Heavy. SpaceX beat them 2.5 years ago. Rather, NASA is competing with SpaceX’s next rocket, the Super Heavy booster that will loft Starship into orbit. SpaceX has not even built a single segment of its Super Heavy rocket—which is larger than SLS, more powerful, vastly cheaper, and reusable—but it’s possible that the vehicle makes an orbital launch before the decade-old SLS in 2021.” (9/11/20)

  2. Rocketeers says:

    NASA continues troubleshooting SLS engine controller. The space agency confirmed this week that troubleshooting continues on the “controller” for engine 4 on the Space Launch System rocket. The engine controller is an avionics unit that controls engine operation and communicates with other avionics systems in the vehicle. Before the week of November 22, this controller communicated with the rocket’s flight computers as expected, but during the week of November 22, to borrow a line from Cool Hand Luke, there was a failure to communicate.
    No rollout until 2022 … In an email update sent to Ars, NASA spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton said, “The SLS and Aerojet Rocketdyne teams are troubleshooting now on-site in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA will have more information on a go-forward plan once troubleshooting is complete.” A rollout to the launch pad, which had been planned for December 29, has already been postponed until at least mid-January, sources say. This all but eliminates the possibility of launching during the earliest window, which is in February.

  3. Update Nate says:

    NASA calls off 3rd attempt to fuel up Artemis 1 moon rocket (April 14, 2022)
    NASA has been working on the SLS for more than a decade. Development was originally supposed to cost $18 billion with an initial launch in 2016. It has been delayed at least 16 times, and the cost has crept over $21 billion between 2011 and 2021.
    When it does launch, Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion capsule around the moon and back to Earth. The Artemis missions won’t be cheap. NASA estimated about $2 billion per launch, but a government report said the true cost is probably closer to $4 billion.
    Meanwhile: “The US’ $13.3 billion aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford is finally ready for action” (4/11/22)

  4. Ad astra says:

    NASA says it’s ready for a fourth attempt to fuel the massive SLS rocket
    After more than a decade of development work—and tens of billions of dollars in costs—NASA and a fleet of contractors rolled a fully assembled SLS rocket out to the launch pad for the first time on March 17, 2022. During the month of April, on three separate occasions, the space agency sought to complete the fueling test. On April 16, after a third unsuccessful attempt, NASA said it would have to roll the rocket back from the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Vehicle Assembly Building for repairs.

  5. Space Case says:

    One of the most momentous tests in NASA history is about to blast off. And you can watch it live.
    Former NASA official on trying to stop SLS: “There was just such visible hostility” “I still don’t know to this day if my boss, Charlie, was in on the whole deal.”
    Ars: It has been a long road for NASA to reach this launch. Given all that you’ve experienced, how do you feel about the upcoming Artemis 1 mission?
    Garver: I’m nervous about the launch. I want it to go well because all of these people have worked on it. I want them to feel good about their contribution. NASA is gonna get just a ton of visibility. But I do think that as the public starts paying attention, they’re going to have a lot of questions. So far, I don’t think people beyond our community really know what’s happening.

    • Update says:

      “NASA has called a scrub on its first attempt to launch the Space Launch System rocket. The problem was due to an “engine bleed” issue, which effectively means that one of the four main engines could not be properly chilled ahead of its ignition.
      It is not clear when the next launch attempt will occur. NASA has an availability to launch at 12:48 pm ET (16:48 UTC) on September 2. However, if work is needed on one of the engines, the rocket likely would need to be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, pushing back a launch attempt until at least October.”

        • Update says:

          Nasa officials have announced the third Artemis I launch will not take place Monday or Tuesday, but will need to be later, likely late September or October. Late September is less likely because of conflicts with SpaceX Crew 5.
          Reportedly engineers discussed multiple options but none would have allowed for the launch to take place before the end of the launch period on Sept. 6.
          Officials confirmed the rocket will need to be rolled back to VAB because the batteries need to be changed.
          NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated that this delay does not presently pose any risk to the timeline for future Artemis missions: Artemis II still is slated for 2024 and Artemis III is still slated for 2025.
          “The cost of two scrubs is a lot less than a failure,” Nelson said.

  6. Frau im Mond says:

    “America’s space agency on Saturday sought to launch a rocket largely cobbled together from the space shuttle, which itself was designed and built more than four decades ago.
    As the space shuttle often was delayed due to technical problems, it therefore comes as scant surprise that the debut launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket scrubbed a few hours before its launch window opened. The showstopper was an 8-inch diameter line carrying liquid hydrogen into the rocket. It sprang a persistent leak at the inlet, known as a quick-disconnect, leading on board the vehicle.
    …So why does NASA use liquid hydrogen as a fuel for its rockets, if it is so difficult to work with, and there are easier to handle alternatives such as methane or kerosene? One reason is that hydrogen is a very efficient fuel, meaning that it provides better “gas mileage” when used in rocket engines. However, the real answer is that Congress mandated that NASA continue to use space shuttle main engines as part of the SLS rocket program.”

  7. Déjà vu says:

    NASA has begun its tanking test of the Space Launch System core and upper stage today at Kennedy Space Center that could pave the way for the Artemis I launch to the moon next week, but a new leak in a fuel line yet again gave NASA headaches.
    The test that got the go to proceed at 7:30 a.m. at Launch Pad 39-B looks to make sure repairs to fuel lines made since a scrub on Sept. 3 can support the more than 730,000 gallons of cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that needs to flow into the core stage as well as the upper Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage of SLS.
    But a new leak in the same line that caused that scrub was detected as NASA halted liquid hydrogen fueling shortly before 10 a.m.

  8. Billions and billions says:

    NASA barred the press from photographing the launch site of its Space Launch System after it boosted the agency’s Artemis I Moon mission into space earlier this week.
    “NASA did not provide a reason,” Eric Berger, Ars Technica’s senior space editor, tweeted. The reporter added that according to his sources, the ban was apparently an attempt to save face after the launch damaged the tower.
    “So now sources are saying that yes, Launch Complex-39B tower was damaged during the Artemis I launch on Wednesday morning,” Berger tweeted. “Basically, there were leaks and damage where there weren’t supposed to be leaks and damage.” [Article includes link: “More on the Artemis 1 launch: NASA Says It’s Fine That Some Pieces May Have Fallen Off Its Moon Rocket During Launch”]

    See also “NASA inspector general issues a scathing report on moon effort
    The cost of the SLS rocket’s mobile launch tower is expected to be at least $1 billion and be delivered years late” (Washington Post June 9, 2022)

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