HomeNASA finally admits that giant SLS rockets are prohibitively expensive

NASA finally admits that giant SLS rockets are prohibitively expensive

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The U.S. Accounts Office has published a report on spending on the development and operation of the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket that helped complete the Artemis I lunar mission last year.

Take an image from nasa.gov.

The Accounts Chamber expressed great disgrace for the decision of NASA to stop taking into account the costs of manufacturing the sLS rocket components necessary for future launches. The Space Agency plan to study the production costs and the availability of the SLS program in five years and estimates its production costs. It will be difficult for taxpayers to evaluate the cost and effectiveness of NASA and its contractors over time. Moreover, the agency refused to regularly update the five-year cost estimate for the production of the rocket.

NASA also does not take into account the delay in the next mission of the Artemis program. A manned flight around the moon as part of the Artemis II mission won’t begin until 2025, and the Artemis III mission requiring landing will likely be postponed to 2026 or even later. The NASA official said there will not be any financial implications for the delay, but this seemed unlikely. Other officials said that the cost estimate would continue to increase due to the delay in the Artemis IV mission, which was postponed from 2026 to 2028. The Accounts Chamber interviewed NASA employees for their concerns about the cost of the SLS rocket.

The American Space Agency said they developed a four-stage plan to reduce the cost of the SLS program by six to twelve percent.

Stabilization of the delivery schedule, improved efficiency in the production process, boosted innovation, and lowered price risk by a process.

But the biggest risk of this strategy is the lack of specificity. In practice, significant changes are not expected yet. NASA recently announced that it would work with Aerojet, the main company of SLS, to reduce the cost of its engines by 30 percent by the end of the decade, and then cost of the engine should fall to 70,5 million. The inspector general called the plan to be questionable. In addition to materials, the cost of labor and material costs come in.

Even though it’s possible to raise their price to $70.5 million per engine, they are very uncompetitive in comparison with private companies. The E-6 model of Blue Origin costs less than $20 million, while SpaceX is aiming to manufacture its similarly powerful Raptor rocket engine under $1 million.

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