Sunday, April 14

NASA’s SLS countdown begins: this is the monstrous (and expensive) lunar rocket that will light up this week

Next Thursday, March 17, NASA’s gigantic Space Launch System (SLS) will be tested (if all goes well). A decade later, the successor to the mythical Space Shuttle is already close to being able to turn on for the first time. NASA has already begun preparations for this launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A first step for what will be the future Artemis 1 missions, which will take the Orion spacecraft around the Moon and Artemis 2, which by 2024 plans to put the first woman on the lunar surface.

The dimensions of the SLS impress. More than 111 meters high and weighing 130 tons. To get an idea, the NASA rocket is taller than the Statue of Liberty. But it is not its size that breaks records, but the budget that NASA has invested in this launch system, more than double what was initially calculated.

Each Artemis mission has a huge cost

In this first launch, it will be verified that the system works and is ready to take off No problem. It will be the culmination of the viability of a project whose budget has been the subject of debate. About five years ago, the costs of a single mission were thought to be around $1.5 billion. But recently the NASA inspector, General Paul Martin, has described that Each Artemis mission will cost $4.1 billion to launch..

NASA invites us to take our name to the Moon on the Artemis mission.  And he will do it on a flash drive

Going to the moon doesn’t come cheap. And it is that from NASA itself they describe that it is “a price that seems unsustainable to us”. 2.2 billion to build the SLS rocket; 568 million dollars for the land platform that only has two levels left to place; 1,000 million for the Orion spacecraft and 300 million for the European Space Agency for the module for the Orion spacecraft. It’s a huge amount, does not even take into account the high cost of research that NASA has been investing for the last 10 years for the creation of this lunar system.

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The cost of operating the SLS is so high that it has been said that it “may jeopardize NASA’s entire deep space flight program.” This week the rocket that should put NASA back at the top of the space race is scheduled to start up again, at least in terms of returning to a satellite, the Moon, which has not received visits for decades .

sls nasa

The SLS system and the Orion spacecraft need a wet staging test to ensure that it is ready for liftoff. This will be done on the same day of the launch. The launch has already been delayed multiple times in the past due to technical problems and other programming factors, so it is not ruled out that the first rehearsal will be delayed again. On this occasion, NASA is carrying out multiple promotional campaigns and has contacted the media to describe its operation, an indication that they do seem to have hope that the test will take place and be successful.

Next Thursday the SLS will activate and launch all protocols, but the rocket will not take off from the ground. If everything goes well, it will go to the next phase that is expected for at least June, where the first flight could be made. If this phase is completed, the Artemis 1 mission will be cleared, in which the rocket will take off without a crew together with the Orion spacecraft and a 26-day trip around the Moon will be made.

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The test will involve a 6.5-kilometre trip between the vehicle assembly building and the launch pad. A test that will last between six and 12 hours and can be seen through static cameras on the NASA channel, starting at 4 pm ET or 9:00 p.m., Spanish time.

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