Author Topic: The Artemis Program  (Read 255 times)

Offline LunarOrbit

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The Artemis Program
« on: September 10, 2019, 09:55:47 AM »

No, I don’t count Trump’s Artemis program as a serious attempt.  Good on Brindenstine for lighting a fire under NASA’s and Boeing’s asses to get the goddamned SLS flying already, but I don’t trust Congress or the President to follow through.

It'll never fly. At best, it might fly once just to show that it can. Conservative estimates put a single launch at somewhere between $1.5-2.5 billion. Who in their right mind are going to do that when SpaceX (and possibly Blue Origin) will do it at a fraction of the cost, and sooner? Hell, NASA spent more refurbishing one of the test stands that *may yet not be needed* than SpaceX spent developing the Falcon Heavy. ::)

It's also nothing short of a crime that the reusable and beautifully designed RS-25 engines will be tossed into the sea after a single launch. :(
SLS is nothing more than a boondoggle to keep the dollars flowing into Shelby's state. It's pork-barrel politics at it's seediest.

I think there are a lot of people in the US government that want to keep SLS alive because it brings money to their State and makes people rich. So, yes, it is expensive and if greed wasn't a factor I'm sure it would have never lasted as long as it has.

I'm actually kind of surprised that the government hasn't tried to regulate SpaceX and Blue Origin out of existence, or artificially increased their costs to make them less competitive.
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Offline Glom

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Re: The Artemis Program
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2019, 01:48:08 PM »
If you're interested in pork, you're probably happy for it to be in perpetual development. The sooner it gets into service, the sooner it gets retired.

Online jfb

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Re: The Artemis Program
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2019, 05:57:41 PM »

No, I don’t count Trump’s Artemis program as a serious attempt.  Good on Brindenstine for lighting a fire under NASA’s and Boeing’s asses to get the goddamned SLS flying already, but I don’t trust Congress or the President to follow through.

It'll never fly. At best, it might fly once just to show that it can. Conservative estimates put a single launch at somewhere between $1.5-2.5 billion. Who in their right mind are going to do that when SpaceX (and possibly Blue Origin) will do it at a fraction of the cost, and sooner? Hell, NASA spent more refurbishing one of the test stands that *may yet not be needed* than SpaceX spent developing the Falcon Heavy. ::)

It's also nothing short of a crime that the reusable and beautifully designed RS-25 engines will be tossed into the sea after a single launch. :(
SLS is nothing more than a boondoggle to keep the dollars flowing into Shelby's state. It's pork-barrel politics at it's seediest.

I think there are a lot of people in the US government that want to keep SLS alive because it brings money to their State and makes people rich. So, yes, it is expensive and if greed wasn't a factor I'm sure it would have never lasted as long as it has.

More like a few people with a lot of power, namely Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and various Space Coast senators and representatives.  His state sees the most benefit from SLS, and he has the muscle to make things happen.  I've said before, it's mostly a welfare program for legacy Shuttle manufacturers.  It's not making anyone filthy rich, though.  As boondoggly as SLS is, it's a tiny fraction of the federal budget, which is why other Congressweasels don't make too much noise about it.  Boeing makes more money building planes and IT systems for the military.  SLS' primary benefit is that it preserves jobs in Alabama and other Space Coast districts, which preserves votes for those members. 

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I'm actually kind of surprised that the government hasn't tried to regulate SpaceX and Blue Origin out of existence, or artificially increased their costs to make them less competitive.

SpaceX and BO are learning to play the game - it's not entirely a coincidence that BO is siting some manufacturing operations in Alabama and SpaceX is building a launch site in Texas. 

But beyond that, "the government" doesn't really work like that.  There's a whole host of reasons, some legal, some political, some cultural, why Congress can't just shut down or otherwise hinder SpaceX and BO.  Of course, this being the dumbest possible dystopian timeline, if any Congress was going to try, it would be this or the next one.  And if they succeeded, it would set nasty precedents that would allow such abuse in perpetuity. 

I mean, Congress can legislate that all non-natsec government launches are required to fly on SLS (which I think they did with things like the Europa Clipper program), but you won't see any sort of legislation that affects commercial launches (apart from safety regulations or things like that).

But remember, Congress is 535 people with 535 different agendas and priorities who don't answer to anyone except their constituents.  It's not a single body with a single mind, it's more like a communal organism that lurches randomly in one direction or another in search of food votes.   And half of them are Democrats, who make cat herding look like an easy and relaxing venture. 

Offline Zakalwe

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Re: The Artemis Program
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2019, 03:41:04 AM »
Regarding SLS and infrastructure, SLS, and Orion, and the supporting ground segment are being built, and SLS will fly in (probably) 2021.  People are working furiously on all three segments of this human-rated super-heavy-lift capability.  SLS will fly before before Elon Musk’s gleaming next-gen idea will, and it will be by quite a bit the most powerful launch vehicle in the world.

This is just a reality check.  SLS does suffer from all the managerial and political issues mentioned, and it is guaranteed to be hideously expensive and set up for failure as an ongoing operational program.  But it’s fantasy to claim that Starship will render SLS obsolete before SLS flies, because designs and prototypes don’t trump actual  flying hardware, and SLS/Orion/KSC ground segment are much closer to reality, like it or not.  Hardware is already being produced for the 2nd SLS and Orion flights, and the VAB and Crawler and Mobile Launcher are already configured and being tested for SLS/Orion even though development is not complete.

I'd happily wager £20 to a charity of your choice that Starship will fly first.
Another £20 says that the SLS will never fly more than once.
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Offline smartcooky

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Re: The Artemis Program
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2019, 07:55:33 AM »
Much of what I heave read both in the threads of this forum and others, and in the news, reaffirms my belief that the future of spaceflight will increasingly be in the hands of private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. Their programs can't be cut on the vindictive whim of a President (like Nixon cutting Apollo because that was Kennedy's legacy, and boosting STS which was "his" project). Neither are they subject to grifting Senators pork-barrelling for their voters.

I predict think SpaceX will put Starship on Mars before NASA get there.

If the unthinkable were to happen, and a President or Congress tried to make things difficult for private space, there are other countries nearby they could move their operations to.
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Online jfb

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Re: The Artemis Program
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2019, 11:53:16 AM »
I think both statements will be true - An SLS mission will fly before the first Starship, and SpaceX will land a manned Starship on Mars (sometime in the 2020s) long before any manned NASA mission (sometime in the 2030s).  SLS flight hardware is a lot closer to the pad than Starship flight hardware (if we're comparing like with like, the orbital Starship prototypes don't count). 

I always liked to joke that SpaceX never met a deadline it didn't miss, but Stubby Bob came together ridiculously fast, even for being a throwaway test bed.  The orbital prototypes are coming together at a similarly fast pace. 

I'm not assuming anything, though - SpaceX thought the FH would come together easily, and it wound up taking an additional 5 years to get it flying.  The individual components may work as expected, but their first orbital prototypes may uncover issues that are more difficult to solve than anticipated. 

I don't want to take anything away from the NASA and Boeing and Lockheed engineers - my issues with the SLS and Orion programs are political, not technical.  Again, good on Brindenstine for lighting a fire under the program to get it moving, but I don't think it will come to much in the end.  #ETTD.