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NASA Space Launch System (SLS)

Flyaway

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Facing more delays, NASA opens door to launching lunar mission with commercial rockets

In a major shift, NASA is considering using two commercial launchers to send an unpiloted Orion crew capsule and its European-built service module on a test flight around the moon next year, maintaining the lunar test flight’s schedule despite fresh delays in the development of the multibillion-dollar Space Launch System that jeopardize the heavy-lifter’s 2020 inaugural flight, the agency’s administrator said in a congressional hearing Wednesday.
And from the other side.

COALITION FOR DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION STATEMENT FOLLOWING SENATE COMMERCE HEARING WITH THE NASA ADMINISTRATOR

This morning at a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, NASA Administrator Bridenstine mentioned that NASA is investigating an alternate approach to flying an Orion crew vehicle and European Service Module (SM) to the Moon by June of 2020. This approach would continue the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), enabling a full testing regime for this critical national asset, and bring SLS and Orion together for the following mission.

No launch vehicle other than the SLS can enable the launch of a fully-outfitted Orion, including the SM, to the Moon. As a result, the Administrator noted that this approach would require at least two launches of heavy-lift vehicles. It could also include in-orbit assembly of a launch vehicle with an upper stage, which would then be used to direct Orion and the SM to the Moon. The analysis to determine whether this approach is feasible is still ongoing. The integration challenges are significant. It is also clear that this approach would require additional funding, since the idea is to undertake both this mission and to continue development of the SLS apace.

The assessment of options such as these are the hallmark of both NASA and the aerospace industry that supports it. Distributed across all 50 states in civil, commercial and military space, the aerospace and defense industry is crucial to U.S. competitiveness across the globe and to American leadership in science, security, entrepreneurship and human exploration of space. The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration and its member companies strongly support forward-leaning efforts to speed human return to the Moon. We welcome the opportunity to join NASA in the flights of Orion, SLS and the Exploration Ground Systems that support these journeys, and the rapid expansion of science, commerce and human exploration at the Moon and beyond.
 

Flyaway

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Have seen lots of questions about whether United Launch Alliance can build one or two Delta IV Heavy rockets in 15 months for a commercially launched Orion. Behind the scenes, I understand they have told NASA they can.
Here’s why NASA’s administrator made such a bold move Wednesday

In a remarkable turnaround, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Wednesday said the space agency would consider launching its first Orion mission to the Moon on commercial rockets instead of NASA's own Space Launch System. This caught virtually the entire aerospace world off guard, and represents a bold change from the status quo of Orion as America's spacecraft, and the SLS as America's powerful rocket that will launch it.

The announcement raised a bunch of questions, and we've got some speculative but well-informed answers.
 

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Further clarification about EM-1 flying on commercial launchers from Bridenstine:

https://spacenews.com/bridenstine-reiterates-commitment-to-sls/

Speaking at a Space Transportation Association luncheon here March 14, Bridenstine said the ongoing study to use commercial launch vehicles rather than the SLS for Exploration Mission (EM) 1 was motivated by a desire to maintain a schedule that called for flying the mission in mid 2020, and that it was a stopgap measure only.

“This is a fix to a problem,” he told an audience of aerospace executives, congressional staffers and representatives of other space agencies of that potential alternative approach to EM-1. “This is not the solution. This is not sustainable.”
 

Michel Van

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in princip is feasible

Orion is launch with Falcon Heavy into Low earth orbit
Delta Heavy upper stage is launch with Delta v heavy

The Delta upper stage is equip with docking system and gyroscope to stabilize it in orbit.
The Orion do the active part of remote Docking while the Delta the passive part

even manned flight would possible if Orion "parked" at ISS and astronauts get on board.
this crew is brought by a Starliner or Crew Dragon to ISS
afterwards then dock with Delta upper stage and goes around the moon
 

Dilandu

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Michel Van said:
in princip is feasible

Orion is launch with Falcon Heavy into Low earth orbit
Delta Heavy upper stage is launch with Delta v heavy
Hm. The mass of Orion is about 25 tons. It would took about 4 km/s of delta-V to reach the Lunar orbit or Lagrange points of Earth-Moon system, and about 1,3 km/s to return to Earth (using aerobraking). So, about 6 km/s of total delta-V should be brought.
 

sferrin

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As in all things, surely if we cancel it it will lead to the inevitable follow-on program delivering sooner and cheaper than if we'd continued with the existing program. For a while anyway it almost looked like we'd escaped the stupidity of the past 20 years. Between this and the USN that soundly puts that notion to rest.
 

Flyaway

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Guess the idea of EM-1 on a commercial launcher was just a stick to beat Boeing with judging by this news piece.

Pence calls for human return to the moon by 2024

Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to return humans to the surface of the moon by 2024, a dramatic acceleration of the agency’s human space exploration plans but a directive accompanied by few technical or fiscal details.

Pence, speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council March 26 in Huntsville, Alabama, said a new sense of urgency was needed in NASA’s plans given delays in ongoing programs like the Space Launch System and concerns about rising international competition.
 

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NASA chief says a Falcon Heavy rocket could fly humans to the Moon

However, Bridenstine then laid out one scenario that has huge implications, not for a 2020 launch, but one later on. Until now, it was thought that only NASA's Space Launch System could directly inject the Orion spacecraft into a lunar orbit, which made it the preferred option for getting astronauts to the Moon for any potential landing by 2024. However, Bridenstine said there was another option: a Falcon Heavy rocket with an Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage built by United Launch Alliance. "Talk about strange bedfellows," he mused about the two rocket rivals.

This plan has the ability to put humans on the Moon by 2024, Bridenstine said. He then emphasized—twice—that NASA's chief of human spaceflight, William Gerstenmaier, has yet to bless this approach due to a number of technical details. His reservations include the challenge of integrating the Falcon Heavy rocket in a horizontal position and then loading Orion with fuel in a vertical configuration on the launchpad. The Falcon Heavy would also require a larger payload fairing than it normally flies with. This would place uncertain stress on the rocket's side-mounted boosters.
 

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This would be a complete cluster.

For starters just getting ULA and SpaceX to play well together to integrate the two systems would be a serious challenge. They just don't work on the same timeframesc or with compatible cultures. And NASA is no longer equipped to play integrator the way they used to.

Then there are the engineering challenges outlined. Orion and the ICPS just aren't designed for the same workflow as Falcon Heavy in terms of integration, fueling, etc. Also, FH isn't man-rated and there are no plans to do so. They'd need hos many flights (in a stable configuration) to allow manned flights? Also some infrastructure issues -- there's no LH2 at Pad 39A anymore, for example.

There's no reason to push this "Frankenstein's monster" approach to reaching the Moon except to satisfy an entirely arbitrary timeline for a mission. It would make far more sense, IMO, to design an alternative space exploration mission system around the SpaceX Starship, which might have the benefit of forcing SpaceX to stabilize the design instead of letting Musk make even more radical mid-course corrections.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
which might have the benefit of forcing SpaceX to stabilize the design instead of letting Musk make even more radical mid-course corrections.
I'm sure handcuffing Elon Musk would do wonders for SpaceX. /sarc
 

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TomS said:
This would be a complete cluster.

For starters just getting ULA and SpaceX to play well together to integrate the two systems would be a serious challenge. They just don't work on the same timeframesc or with compatible cultures. And NASA is no longer equipped to play integrator the way they used to.

Then there are the engineering challenges outlined. Orion and the ICPS just aren't designed for the same workflow as Falcon Heavy in terms of integration, fueling, etc. Also, FH isn't man-rated and there are no plans to do so. They'd need hos many flights (in a stable configuration) to allow manned flights? Also some infrastructure issues -- there's no LH2 at Pad 39A anymore, for example.

There's no reason to push this "Frankenstein's monster" approach to reaching the Moon except to satisfy an entirely arbitrary timeline for a mission. It would make far more sense, IMO, to design an alternative space exploration mission system around the SpaceX Starship, which might have the benefit of forcing SpaceX to stabilize the design instead of letting Musk make even more radical mid-course corrections.
The time and money required to make it all work in the timeframe proposed is also being seriously underestimated. Picking everyone's rosiest projections and dismissing any chance of unexpected issues cropping up is not generally considered good project management.
 

sferrin

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Moose said:
TomS said:
This would be a complete cluster.

For starters just getting ULA and SpaceX to play well together to integrate the two systems would be a serious challenge. They just don't work on the same timeframesc or with compatible cultures. And NASA is no longer equipped to play integrator the way they used to.

Then there are the engineering challenges outlined. Orion and the ICPS just aren't designed for the same workflow as Falcon Heavy in terms of integration, fueling, etc. Also, FH isn't man-rated and there are no plans to do so. They'd need hos many flights (in a stable configuration) to allow manned flights? Also some infrastructure issues -- there's no LH2 at Pad 39A anymore, for example.

There's no reason to push this "Frankenstein's monster" approach to reaching the Moon except to satisfy an entirely arbitrary timeline for a mission. It would make far more sense, IMO, to design an alternative space exploration mission system around the SpaceX Starship, which might have the benefit of forcing SpaceX to stabilize the design instead of letting Musk make even more radical mid-course corrections.
The time and money required to make it all work in the timeframe proposed is also being seriously underestimated. Picking everyone's rosiest projections and dismissing any chance of unexpected issues cropping up is not generally considered good project management.
Is there even a lander anywhere near being close to 5 years from landing on the moon?
 

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sferrin said:
Moose said:
TomS said:
This would be a complete cluster.

For starters just getting ULA and SpaceX to play well together to integrate the two systems would be a serious challenge. They just don't work on the same timeframesc or with compatible cultures. And NASA is no longer equipped to play integrator the way they used to.

Then there are the engineering challenges outlined. Orion and the ICPS just aren't designed for the same workflow as Falcon Heavy in terms of integration, fueling, etc. Also, FH isn't man-rated and there are no plans to do so. They'd need hos many flights (in a stable configuration) to allow manned flights? Also some infrastructure issues -- there's no LH2 at Pad 39A anymore, for example.

There's no reason to push this "Frankenstein's monster" approach to reaching the Moon except to satisfy an entirely arbitrary timeline for a mission. It would make far more sense, IMO, to design an alternative space exploration mission system around the SpaceX Starship, which might have the benefit of forcing SpaceX to stabilize the design instead of letting Musk make even more radical mid-course corrections.
The time and money required to make it all work in the timeframe proposed is also being seriously underestimated. Picking everyone's rosiest projections and dismissing any chance of unexpected issues cropping up is not generally considered good project management.
Is there even a lander anywhere near being close to 5 years from landing on the moon?
None that I know of designed for humans.
 

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If all else fails, there is always the 'Hold until relieved' approach...
 

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Europa Clipper instrument change could affect mission science

A NASA decision last month to replace an instrument on the Europa Clipper mission with a less expensive, but less capable, alternative is leaving scientists concerned about the ability of the mission to meet some of its objectives.


The project has been looking at a number of options for the non-SLS option. Speaking at a National Academies committee meeting in March, Barry Goldstein, Europa Clipper project manager, said one option under consideration would be a launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy equipped with a Star 48BV kick stage. That trajectory, known formally as Delta-V Earth Gravity Assist 3-Minus, involves a launch in November 2023 and an Earth flyby in October 2025 prior to arrival at Jupiter in September 2029.



The travel time of a little less than six years is only slightly shorter than some other alternatives previously studied. However, it has the advantage of not requiring any gravity assist flybys of Venus, with the spacecraft getting only slightly closer to the sun on its trajectory than the Earth. “That solves a world of problems on thermal management,” Goldstein said. “We no longer have the challenge of the thermal problems that we had getting close to Venus.”



A second advantage, he said, is that it offers a backup launch window roughly a year later, whereas with the Venus flyby trajectory the mission would have to wait until 2025 if it can’t launch in 2023. “We’re not 100 percent there yet, but things are looking very positive” for the new trajectory, he said.
 

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From NASA - We are going to the Moon to stay, by 2024. This is how.

 

Michel Van

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there is new Article about Artemis program

They speculate that Advance SLS could use Blue Origin BE-3U engine for more powerful Upper stage.


but the NASA infographic show interesting or better say lack of it
Were Lunar Gateway Station ?
 

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Orion Ascent Abort (AA-2) test article

K. Scott Piel

Published on May 23, 2019

Short clip of the NASA SLS/Orion Ascent Abort (AA-2) test article moving from the Launch Abort System (LAS) facility to SLC-46 at Cape Canaveral ahead of the abort system test flight planned for July 2

 
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Anybody know what the difference between this test flight, and the one they did years ago, will be?

 

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Anybody know what the difference between this test flight, and the one they did years ago, will be?

Abort-1 was a pad-abort test, fired with the capsule boilerplate vehicle sitting on a stand. Abort-2 will be an in-flight abort test, with a Castor lifting the boilerplate to 31,000 ft before the the LAS fires.
 

Flyaway

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Anybody know what the difference between this test flight, and the one they did years ago, will be?

Abort-1 was a pad-abort test, fired with the capsule boilerplate vehicle sitting on a stand. Abort-2 will be an in-flight abort test, with a Castor lifting the boilerplate to 31,000 ft before the the LAS fires.
On the schedule the booster is described as a Minotaur IV launcher.
 

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Looks like they made a bunch of changes to the design as well. (400k main motor instead of 500k for example).
 

Moose

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Anybody know what the difference between this test flight, and the one they did years ago, will be?

Abort-1 was a pad-abort test, fired with the capsule boilerplate vehicle sitting on a stand. Abort-2 will be an in-flight abort test, with a Castor lifting the boilerplate to 31,000 ft before the the LAS fires.
On the schedule the booster is described as a Minotaur IV launcher.
Based on Minotaur but wouldn't call it a M4. It's a TU-903 (M4/Peacekeeper surplus) stage wrapped in a fairing, with the boilerplate+LAS test stack on top. I guess while I'm being picky, technically the "Castor" name only applies to the built-for-commercial stage heavily based on TU-903 and not the surplus stages so points off for me there.;)
 

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A flurry of initiatives announced early in March to find a way to fly Exploration Mission-1 by this time next year were supposed to be complete by now, but NASA has not announced findings or decisions on speeding up schedules and eliminating typical development testing. All of NASA’s internal reviews of the pre-launch assembly and production work content, integrated schedules, and overall cost estimates for the first two integrated missions, now called Artemis 1 and Artemis 2, were advertised to be complete by the end of the Spring.

Major assembly of the Artemis 1 hardware elements could be completed in the next month, with mating of the Crew Module and Service Module of the Orion spacecraft for the mission expected in July and mating of the engine section to the rest of the first Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage possible around the end of the month. Although NASA’s internal recommendation a few months ago was to ship Core Stage-1 to the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and conduct the Stage Green Run test, the civilian space agency’s political leadership will make the final decision on schedule vs. testing.
 

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Published on May 9, 2018
Orbital ATK’s vision for the next step toward human space missions to Mars employs our flight-proven Cygnus advanced maneuvering spacecraft as a human habitat in cislunar space, the region between the Moon and Earth. In the early 2020s we would launch the initial habitat on NASA’s SLS rocket. Featuring a modular design, the habitat would serve both as a destination for crewed missions and as an unmanned testbed to prove-out the technologies needed for long-duration human space missions. The habitat is also envisioned as a base for lunar missions by international partners or commercial ventures. With additional habitation and propulsion modules, the habitat could be outfitted for a Mars pathfinder mission.
 
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