- NASA has announced changes to its “base cost” for the SLS rocket, saying it will spend an additional 30% or more to prepare the rocket for its debut in late 2021.
- The SLS program has suffered from delays and cost overruns for years.
- The first tentative launch date of SLS is November 2021.
Thus, NASA has just announced that it will broadcast the static firing test of its new SLS rocket to the public. This was good news as the project has been facing delays and cost overruns for some time. Then, just like at the right time, the space agency also released a brief update to its Artemis program, of which SLS is a major component. More good news? Not enough.
As Ars Technica First noticed, NASA snuck in a little tidbit about the overall cost of this whole project in this latest update. As you can imagine, the project has not gotten cheaper. Instead, it will now be around 30% more expensive than expected. Hooray!
Here’s the little NASA sneaked into the blog:
Taking this new launch readiness date into account, NASA also aligned the development costs of the SLS and Exploration Ground Systems programs through Artemis I and established new cost commitments. The new base development cost for SLS is $ 9.1 billion, and the commitment for the initial capability of ground systems to support the mission is now $ 2.4 billion.
All in all, this is an increase of about a third over the most recent estimated program cost that was calculated in 2017. Simply put, this whole business just keeps getting bigger and bigger. dear, and all we see in return for funding is more delays.
Now, okay, the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for NASA, and the space agency has cited the pandemic as a reason progress on SLS has been slow this year. Yet, this isn’t the first time that an update to the Space Launch System program has included both a dramatic increase in costs and a significant delay. This is unfortunately becoming the norm.
Still, NASA seems incredibly optimistic about it all, at least to the public. “NASA has briefed Congress on these new commitments, and we are working at the best possible pace towards the launch, including streamlining the operational flow at Kennedy and assessing opportunities to further improve the efficiency of our integration activities.” , indicates the update. “Now that the majority of the design development is complete, along with the first build and an extensive testing program, a lot of the effort is behind us.”
That said, we’re still well over a year before the SLS rocket’s first launch, and that’s so no further delays appear in the meantime. If there’s anything the SLS program has taught us over the years, it’s to expect delays.