NASA administrator considers it possible to send Orion on the first voyage around the moon on a commercial rocket

    It seems to be the end.

    We need to consider all options to meet the Exploration Mission-1 target launch date of June 2020, including launching on commercial rockets.
    / We need to consider all options to achieve the target launch date for Exploration Mission-1 in June 2020 , including the launch on commercial missiles. /
    The only commercial missile that is close in parameters to SLS, and which, in principle, can be certified for a manned flight for the remaining year with a little, is called Falcon Heavy. But even Falcon Heavy, judging by the published data, cannot send Orion spacecraft around the moon with a total mass of 25.848 kg.
    It seems that Elon Mask will still have to take his mind off Starship, and we can stock up on popcorn and bet on the results of this Senate Lunch System scandal. Let me remind you that just recently, the mission of Europa Clipper and delivery of Lunar Gateway elements to the near-moon orbit were transferred from commercial missiles from SLS .

    During a joint presentation by the Senate and NASA in September 2011, it was announced that the projected cost of developing the SLS rocket would be $ 10 billion and $ 2 billion to upgrade the launch pad and other facilities in the Kennedy Space Center. In October 2018, NASA's Inspector General said that the program is expected to cost about two times the original planned amount by 2021. The cost of the launch was not officially reported, but, apart from the launch itself, NASA, after the development of the rocket is completed, will have to pay Boeing and Lockheed the maintenance of the infrastructure of SLS and KK Orion in the amount of 1.5-2 billion a year. In general, if such a mountain of money gives birth to a mouse, then someone will have to be extreme.

    In fact, this is one of the brightest moments of the paradigm shift in space exploration, when the general technological level of civilization made possible the wide commercial exploration of outer space, and the old, mobilization, methods of space activity become obviously ineffective.

    UPD1 (likely to be more).

    In the comments on another site, there was information that NASA is continuing to study the launch of Orion spacecraft on commercial rockets. More information is promised next week.


    A pair of YouTube videos.

    This was planned Exploration Mission-1. It is possible that plans will change due to the replacement of the rocket.

    All previously planned missions with SLS.


    Some details became known.

    NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein made his address by addressing the Senate Science Committee. Indeed, double start on two different commercial media is supposed. Bridenstein did not mention which boosters will be used. The two most powerful in the arsenal of the American launch vehicle are the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, which made its first flight last year, and the United Launch Alliance Delta IV veteran, who has 37 launches (and not a single failure). Breedenstein also said that NASA could still use SLS to launch Orion’s first crew mission. However, this option will entail a reduction in security, programmatic and political risks.

    The program risk is that if the dual launch mission works and saves the space agency a significant amount of money, then the rationale for continuing to use SLS will be called into question. There will be a strong incentive to cancel the SLS program and use the money planned for it to accelerate NASA's plans to return American astronauts to the moon.

    Based on source

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    In your opinion - will the SLS program be canceled?

    • 28.9% Yes, but the Orion spacecraft program will continue. 78
    • 15.9% Yes, along with Orion. 43
    • 17.4% No, everything will remain as it is. 47
    • 17.1% I do not care, let them do what they want. 46
    • 20.4% Yes, it will be canceled, but after several launches. 55

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