Is there a word for that sinking feeling boffins get when they find a small box of electronics where their new shoes should be, the day after the launch?
Three citizen teams in the United States will get to fire deep-space satellites from NASA's newest rocket, Space Launch System, as part of the agency's Cube Quest Challenge. The teams' shoebox-sized "CubeSats" will then compete in a space-themed, robotic version of Survivor to win $5m, NASA's largest-ever prize pot. Heart- …
Saturday 10th June 2017 04:03 GMT IT Poser
For the boffin's sake I hope they have a backup plan.
Falcon Heavy has paying customers set to fly around the Moon in 2018. Projected payload capacity of FH has been upgraded to 65 tonnes to LEO, nearly the 70 tonnes SLS Block I will be capable of. As SLS will cost an estimated 5-25 times as much per launch, I see no reason to continue funding SLS once a FH is available. I see no reason to think FH won't be available with other commercial options following, namely BO's offering.
Normally with $43 billion in sunk costs already invested in Ares/SLS I would expect at least EM-1 to fly. The thing is that America watched Blighty, saw the Brexit vote as and challenge, sticking with us the results of a "Hold my beer!" moment. As we just saw there is a backlash. The next US election is in 2018, before SLS flies. I would not be shocked to see SLS get the ax before EM-1 flies.
That said we've spent a lot. EM-1 will probably fly. I still hope the boffins have plans that allow their project to fly on other platforms and this option was only used to grab some pork.
Saturday 10th June 2017 18:54 GMT John Smith 19
Sunday 11th June 2017 19:24 GMT Richard 12
Re: For the boffin's sake I hope they have a backup plan.
FH has yet to fly, and has yet to be integrated - but the side boosters of FH have flown many times, and the engines and tankage of the FH core are a proven design.
- Heck, the demo launch has already flown 0.6 times, if you squint.
The main part of FH that's untested is the integration. They've never tried to run and balance three cores simultaneously.
SLS on the other hand, is using new everything except the liquid engines. While it's all based on earlier designs, there's a lot of pretty significant changes. They've only done static fire tests, so can't be as confident.
FH is very likely to fly in Q4 2017/Q1 2018, and SpaceX have long proven they have the manufacturing capacity to attempt a paying payload launch very rapidly - STP-2 may well be within a month of the demo flight, unless they find significant anomalies.
I'm pretty sure that the SLS Block 1/1B EM-1 and EC will happen either way, because most of the cost of launch has already been paid and it's unlikely to be possible to reintegrate the EC payload into FH. However I suspect that many other SLS missions will be moved to FH.
The ULA must be bricking it. If EM-1 is delayed much more - or worse, fails...
Monday 12th June 2017 08:23 GMT Martin Budden