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_0h_no_not_again_ t1_j6967pz wrote

Totally agree the cost is unacceptable, but there is literally no other option for punting people to the moon currently.

Investment into making other platforms human rated and capable of lunar injection may have been more cost effective, maybe not.

In my opinion its amazing how well everything went, and it does show competence in everyone involved.


Bensemus t1_j69pjqv wrote

Human rating the Falcon Heavy and upgrading the Dragon capsule wouldn’t have cost close to $100 billion.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j69rqqv wrote

You may have misunderstood why SpaceX abandoned the Falcon heavy upgrade to the BFR. SLS is Rad hardened certified can get 59,000 pounds to Lunar orbit, well in excess of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy in full disposable mode to fast LTI Lunar Orbit by roughly 3x. SpaceX dragon is human rated only for LEO and is not rad hardened for operation beyond the van Allen belts due to huge savings in R&D test facilities, time, and costs. This is why SpaceX has been spending 7 years and billions on Starship and the Raptor program instead of BFR/Falcon Heavy tech.


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j69utue wrote

SLS isn’t rad hardened. The only part that even leaves LEO is the ICPS and that’s just taken from the Delta III.

Falcon Heavy in expendable mode has a TLI of about 20,000kg, SLS block I is about 27,000kg hardly 3 times.

Orion does have improved rad hardening, but Dragon solves that issue with multiple redundant systems to compensate for radiation induced bit errors. The same approach being used on Starship


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6acuza wrote

SpaceX and Wikipedia’s fact sheets would disagree with you. In fully disposable mode, Falcon Heavy can only get 26,000kg to Geosync orbit max, and much less to fast TLI. [NASA approached SpaceX for Falcon Heavy as an option in 2018, but SpaceX responded that slow cargo LTI would be 16,000, and maxed out at 18,000 for the theoretical max for the platform]. The block 1 27,000kg to TLI is like this month’s Starship test, no 100 ton test load to LEO, just an empty capsule with sensors and minimal load for proof of basic delievery and systems integration.)

SLS’s Artemis is rad hardened according to NASA and their results from their test mission.

SpaceX and other commercial crewed vehicles for short LEO mission are allowed to be exempted from Rad hardening using the redundancy you mentioned. Starship HLS will be Rad Hardened based on SpaceX’s latest submission to NASA, and will also use the Water and Fuel tanks in the lander for part of their Rad Hardening solution.


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j6advot wrote

And 16,800 to TMI (Trans Mars Injection). Folks who’ve done the delta V analysis puts the Falcon Heavy TLI performance at approximately 20,000kg

There is no part of SLS that enters into a “high rad” environment except the second stage and for Block I it’s a stage they’ve taken from Delta III. Please let me know exactly what is “rad hardened” on SLS

As well, system redundancy is the exact same method used on Starship, both as part of the Artemis program (as the lunar lander) and potential Mars missions. Crew Dragons are kept on ISS for months, they aren’t exactly “short duration missions”


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6aivu4 wrote

When approached by NASA in 2018 for potential SLS replacement, they stated to NASA and press questions that the best theoretical max for Falcon Heavy disposable TLI payload is 18,000kg, but only a realistic 16,000kg to lunar orbit for a crewed vehicle. The Mars injection is using the 6 month Holmann transfer window, and remember with crewed missions food/air consumption combined with minimum rad exposure is really important. This means flashlight style month long journeys to lunar orbit doesn’t make sense, and transits need to be between 3-4 days.


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j6aw1is wrote

Falcon 9 performance has continued to improve since 2018. However, let’s go with the 16,000kg number, SLS block 1 still doesn’t have 3 times the payload to TLI, it doesn’t even have twice the payload. We’ll likely get block IB, but it’s unclear if block 2 will ever get funded.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6b0yzy wrote

I was using the current SpaceX Falcon Heavy sales spec sheet, and given the amounts to LEO, GEO and Holman Mars transfer window kg hasnt changed from the April 2017 SpaceX website to today, it kinda follows. Now the turn around time per booster reuse has improved markedly with the newer blocks, but the fully disposable mode kg to optimal falcon apogee has not changed since they shifted focus to starship in the beginning of 2018. SpaceX abandoned the falcon platform improvements for the next Gen starship in 2018. If you can show me where on SpaceX’s site or elsewhere the fully disposable kg to LEO/GEO/solar/mars has changed since April 2017, I would be interested why SpaceX hasn’t updated the Falcon Heavy website but gladly concede your point that Falcon could deliver 26,000kg in 3-4 days to TLI.


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j6b60vw wrote

As mentioned folks have done the delta V analysis of the published GEO and TMI numbers and come to the 20,000kg value, but let’s say your 16,000kg number is correct. SLS Block 1 is 27,000kg TLI, so not even twice that of Falcon Heavy.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6b8vzu wrote

Who are “folks” and why isn’t SpaceX updating their sales specs to show these performance upgrades to their customers? Updating’s falcon Heavy page costs them nothing and the folks could update the Falcon Heavy wiki if they don’t have access to SpaceX’s webpage.

Want to add SpaceX stated with their last Falcon Heavy performance upgrade, 16,000kg TLI was the high end without much more significant Falcon Heavy R&D/investment/changes to get to 18,000kg TLI that were never studied or developed. SLS Block I 26,000kg to TLI perf isn’t intended to be used beyond Artemis II/III, and 1B will be 42,000 kg to TLI , so more than 2x compared to the max SpaceX said they could do with the most efficient planned production block then and now. SpaceX Falcon Heavy was optimized for different mission use cases than the SLS, and SpaceX told NASA and the press that publicly. That said SLS program will likely be the end of an era for non-interplanetary crewed missions, and private space flight by 2025/2030 will replace NASA except for cutting edge research/deep space missions like new nuclear drives and unproven engine designs too risky for private companies.


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j6bd8ed wrote

SpaceX doesn’t currently publish their TLI payload so I’m not sure what you want them to “update”

Plus the SLS Block IB won’t even fly until 2027 (at the earliest) and that will be the crew version which has a lower payload of 38,000 kg to TLI. So while that version will be more than twice the payload of Falcon Heavy (using your numbers), it will be competing against Starship and Superheavy by then


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6beblk wrote

Yeah I am not talking about including what food/water/re-entry/life support systems/cargo load for 8-10 days with crew of 4 in a red dragon would be, as SpaceX never produced anything except really rough mock-ups and no test vehicle specs.

I am comparing gross SLS block performance to gross falcon heavy performance to fast TLI (not month long one way insertion). SpaceX has told publications and NASA what the TLI would be. I would say trust SpaceX over some random stack exchange or Quora post (which are the only people I can find referring to your numbers).


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j6bh5ms wrote

As I said, let’s assume your numbers are correct. 16,000kg for TLI for Falcon Heavy. SLS Block I is 28,000kg TLI. That IS NOT 2-3 times the performance of Falcon Heavy. (Twice is 32,000kg which is greater than 28,000kg).

However if you’re going to start comparing what the hypothetical future SLS performance might be in 4-5 years, then expect to compare it against what the hypothetical future SpaceX performance might be in 4-5 years which will be Starship and Superheavy. Falcon Heavy likely won’t even be flying by 2027


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6bi9ep wrote

Hypothetical also applies to starship HLS and its in orbit refueling, and at least one orbital HLS tanker.

I think they will do it, SpaceX and SLS, just saying we know SpaceX stopped investing in Falcon heavy performance because the math didn’t work for non-LEO missions in 2018. Falcon Heavy BFR is more hypothetical than a vehicle and 80-90% (may be more like 98% as the biggest changes to 1B is just more main tank and SRB fuel capacity segments) of its components that just launched on SLS that will be reused for the newer blocks, as well as the Starship HLS and tankers prototype testing in Texas hopefully kicking off next month. Though the first lunar orbital flight TBD, but hopefully when you suggest, but if we adjust for SpaceX delivery estimation historically 2027-2028 worst case for a crewed NASA lunar mission.)


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j6bjvpz wrote

Yes, I said hypothetical to both. Either you compare the vehicles that are flying today or you compare hypothetical vehicles from 4-5 years in the future.

In either scenario SLS IS NOT carrying 3 times the payload of its competition.

BTW Block II will have completely new SRBs, a new upper stage and a new version of the RS-25. Hardly “80%-90%” of what was used on Artemis I


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6blzeq wrote

Okay so 16,000 kg to TLI is equal to 26-27,000kg TLI? I was talking about 2023 block Falcon Heavy, not starship, Vulcan, or New Glenn. I will give you it’s not 3x this month, it is 1.7-1.8x, and 2-3x neighborhood is designed and assembly lines with known manufacturing techniques operating right now and has been fitted to test stands. Falcon Heavy isn’t going to get another block in the next 2-3 years, we know that for sure as of Dec 2018.


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j6bo3x2 wrote

Now you’re creating a strawman. I never claimed that the Falcon Heavy was equivalent to Block I SLS. I disputed your claim that it had 3 times the payload.

RS-25E is a completely new assembly line using new production methods and new engine controllers (as the original RS-25 hasn’t been built in decades)

BOLE (the new SRBs) use completely different casings (composite) and a new propellant mixture.

EUS is net new (but will be introduced for Block IA). Heck the mobile launch platform needed for Block 1A and Block 2 is having substantial issues. The only thing common, is the core tanks and thrust structure


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6bovrz wrote

Ah I thought you implied Falcon Heavy could do what SLS is doing, my error and I did say 2-3x when right now i am off by 0.3x until the block 1B launches. You are right 2 of the new RS-25s testing today haven’t flown before and use 3D printed parts along with parts that have flown on the Space shuttle, but it’s a little different than saying it doesn’t exist and they are completely hypothetical. Same goes for the SRBs. Two other conversations where folks didn’t understand NASA did try and see if Falcon Heavy could replace the SLS key payload to TLI needs several times, the last in 2018, and SpaceX said no and I may have crossed the threads in my head. Let’s hope HLS and the Starship booster and refueling will meet the SLS 1B on time how ever relatively hypothetical they are right now.


Shrike99 t1_j6bfosq wrote

>When approached by NASA in 2018 for potential SLS replacement, they stated to NASA and press questions that the best theoretical max for Falcon Heavy disposable TLI payload is 18,000kg, but only a realistic 16,000kg to lunar orbit for a crewed vehicl


>The Mars injection is using the 6 month Holmann transfer window,

Even the lowest energy Mars transfer still needs more energy than fast TLI.

A best case Hohmann transfer during an ideal window like the 2033 window would be about 3500m/s. However, the upcoming 2024 window will be more like 4100m/s. On average it tends to be around 3900m/s, so I expect SpaceX's payload figures to be based on something like that.

By comparison, Apollo's fast TLI burns were nominally 10,400fps, or ~3170m/s. Call it 3200m/s. No matter how you cut it, the Mars transfer needs several hundred m/s more delta-v.

It seems very odd that an extra ~700m/s to get from GTO to TLI reduces payload from 26.7 tonnes to 16-18 tonnes, or a whopping 10 tonnes less, yet another ~700m/s to get to TMI results in virtually the same payload.

Even if SpaceX are using the best case Mars transfer, you'd still expect it to be a few tonnes less.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6ahg5v wrote

Wait so SLS doesn’t use the Artemis rad hardened crewed vehicle? NASA seemed to indicate the SLS launches Artemis to the moon.

I would re-read the latest SpaceX HLS submission to NASA, it included major changes including rad hardening (including moving tanks of water, supplies and fuel for radiation shielding of humans and key systems).

What orbit does the ISS station occupy? [Hint it’s inside the protection of the Van Allen belts at 240 miles. Max LEO orbit is 1,200 miles in altitude.]


Kellymcdonald78 t1_j6aiipl wrote

You said SLS is rad hardened not Artemis (Artemis isn’t even a vehicle, it’s a programme). Orion is “rad hardened” but except for the second stage, SLS doesn’t even leave LEO.

I’ve read the SpaceX submission. They’ve made a few changes to help reduce crew impact in the event of a CME, but the electronics are not rad hardened (radiation hardened CPUs and memory don’t have the performance SpaceX needs)

You also said that Commercial Crew gets an “exemption” because of they’re “short LEO missions”. Hint: they aren’t short


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6ap550 wrote

Apologies, I was using short in reference to the maximum amount of time SpaceX allows unused Dragons to be docked in LEO to the iSS for 119 days before risk of radiation wear on systems violates crew safety risk parameters in powered down safety mode. Looks like one dragon’s ( maybe Endeavor?) panels maintained their solar production up until 210 days before failing threshold. Active use for dragon is 10 rated for 10 days in LEO.


CurtisLeow t1_j69v3v4 wrote

NASA is paying to radiation harden Dragon. Dragon will be launching cargo to the Lunar Gateway. source

SpaceX is focusing on Starship because it's a better design. But NASA could have absolutely funded a crew-rated, radiation hardened version of Dragon.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j69w4tx wrote

And the missing 2-3x of disposable Falcon Heavy mass to LTI? SpaceX could have funded the Rad hardened Dragon 7 years ago without NASA funding if they wanted to, but felt Starship was a better investment given the large expense and missing capabilities NASA required of its vendors.


CurtisLeow t1_j6a0av0 wrote

We are talking about NASA, since this is a thread about NASA's SLS. We're talking about alternatives that NASA could have funded to the SLS. NASA could have paid to human-rate the Falcon Heavy, NASA could have paid to radiation harden Crew Dragon. That would have been a viable alternative to the SLS + Orion, at a far lower cost.

SpaceX absolutely decided to focus on Starship. But it doesn't change that Dragon + Falcon Heavy could have been used as a cheaper alternative to Orion + SLS.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6a7zgp wrote

You said the Falcon Heavy was an alternative for SLS and it wasn’t going to work even if NASA dropped everything and paid SpaceX for everything. 7 years ago couldn’t meet basic SLS TLI payload/Delta V in full disposable mode means hasn’t ever been a viable SLS replacement for pounds to TLI, even if they had red dragon rad hardened at the time. Look at what SpaceX estimated the weight of Red Dragon, Falcon heavy couldn’t have delivered it to TLI fully loaded even for a reduced crew and scope, SpaceX was right to focus on using what they learned from the falcon Heavy’s failures and used the billions of Starship/Raptor NASA money on the next generation of Heavy Lift.


CurtisLeow t1_j6ahiea wrote

At one point the SLS was going to launch the Lunar Gateway, the cargo to the Lunar Gateway, the Europa Clipper, and crewed Lunar flyby missions. The vast majority of those missions have switched, at least partially, to the Falcon Heavy.

You may not like it, but the Falcon Heavy's performance is very comparable to the SLS. It's good enough. The Falcon Heavy can't launch Orion into TLI, but it can launch Dragon into TLI. NASA is already paying SpaceX to launch Dragon into TLI, as I've already pointed out, as I've already linked. So nit-picking over performance to the Moon is a distraction from the reality. The Falcon Heavy has almost entirely replaced the SLS.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6ajvw1 wrote

I love the Falcon program and the Merlin’s, but they fell short for economic heavy lift reuse beyond LEO/ and limited apogee GEO kg to orbit/deltaV. Starship and Raptor economics for heavy lift and deep space crewed missions are money better spent than upgrading SpaceX 2010-2012 technology for NASA.

Please provide SpaceX’s claims that the Falcon Heavy could make TLI in 3-4 days fully crewed with 26,000kg? All the articles I can find when asked, SpaceX told NASA and the press in 2018 if they couldn’t replace the SLS/crewed mission scope, and that the fully disposable Falcon Heavy theoretical max payload to TLI was 18,000kg, but without serious modifications, 16,000kg for crewed 3-4 day TLI transit.

Fun fact: This is shortly before SpaceX publicly completely abandoned upgrading the Falcon Heavy (BFR/Red Dragon) program, and announced the new starship architecture and Booster heavy lift program keeping only the Raptor engines in the late fall early winter of 2018.


Ukulele_Maestro t1_j6crnli wrote

Nothing has stopped SpaceX from doing so. It's a private company after all.


OlympusMons94 t1_j69xl7y wrote

SLS and Orion could be replaced by a second HLS Starship and a couple of Dragons or Starliners for ferrying astronauts to and from LEO. All are under contract to NASA right now, and unlike even Orion, Dragon (and hopefully soon Starliner) have actually caried astronauts to dock with another spacecraft. Any argument to the effect of "Starship/HLS hasn't been demonstrated yet" is as irrelevant as SLS/Orion are without a lander.

If we are talking in hind sight, there is no maybe about it. 15-20 years ago, distributed lift with the Atlas V and Delta IV (with Ariane 5 cooperation and an on-ramp for the future Falcon 9/Heavy) could have been used with distributed lift. No new launch vehicle needed to have been developed, let alone SLS or Ares.


3SquirrelsinaCoat t1_j6a21p4 wrote

It was a jobs program, and it remains a jobs program. I'm excited for Artemis, for sure, but just because SLS flew ONCE doesn't mean it is justified in terms of cost, tech strategy, and design. SLS can fly 10 more times and the budget isn't justified, in part because it's another $2B a pop.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6aef8r wrote

SLS was always a place holder until the Obama commercial flight program investments for near earth exploration fully established themselves with their focus on self sustaining privatized profitability. SpaceX is awesome and should be celebrated for its speed, but so far seems to repeat the same missed self imposed overly ambitious timelines even with 50% NASA funding. Remember 6-8 years ago, SpaceX predicted that BFG and Red Dragon would be human rated and ready for deployment in 2020. It’s now 2023, BFR and Red dragon have been completely abandoned for Starship. And in 2023, with billions of NASA co-funding, SpaceX hasnt finished a test crewed vehicle, LSS, new lunar landing thusters, and are expecting to have a successful test launch this year to get to LEO, so figure SLS as something for SpaceX/commercial crewed systems to profit from, it has proved out the new high efficiency lunar injections, started the process of scouting base locations and new rad hardening technologies and permanent lunar presence locations SpaceX and others will use.


OlympusMons94 t1_j6akuun wrote

Once again, Starship delays are irrelevant. It isn't and wasn't ever needed as a launch vehicle for a Moon program, nor was SLS. SLS/Orion, or whatever launch vehicle and capsule are used for Artemis, can't do anything useful until they have a working lander, however long that takes. But once Starship HLS is ready, you might as well make the most of it and replace SLS/Orion. (No other proposed HLS is nearly as far along as Starship, or even under contract to NASA yet. But the same could apply to most any hypothetical HLS, given all of the work that is left to it because of SLS/Orion's shortcomings.)

But since you insist: Orion has been in development since 2006, and SLS since 2011. SLS was based on the earlier Ares and Shuttle. Engines are arguably the most difficult part of a launch vehicle. The core stage engines and boosters for SLS were developed in the 1970s. The upper stage is a repurposed Delta III/IV upper stage using an improved version of an engine first developed in the 1950s. After all of that, SLS still flew nearly 6 years after, and cost twice as much as, what was originally planned.

Starship is a brand new and revolutionary vehicle and should be expected to take longer than SLS to develop. The earliest mention of anything like ITS, BFR, or Starship by SpaceX goes back only to 2012, and even mention of hydrogen fueled "Raptor" engines only goes back to 2009 (since 2012, the fuel has been methane). A Starship design similar its to current form (e.g., switching from carbon fiber to stainless steel) didn't even start until late 2018.

Despite all of that, Starship should make its orbital flight well within a year of SLS. The HLS Starship will of course be extra/different, but that was not contracted until 2021, and even then was delayed (at least on the NASA side) by Blue Origin. Orion has yet to fly with a full life support or any docking systems. SLS will still be using its "interim" upper stage through Artemis III.

I'm not sure what the fixation with radiation hardening is. SpaceX and others have all the access they need to NASA'a data and work on radiaiton. (Furthermore, resillience to radiation is also simpler to brute force with the mass and redundancy afforded by Starship.) SLS itself (and Dragon and Starliner) are not operated beyond LEO, so that is no more an issue than for any other rocket (or LEO capsule). Only Orion (or, as I am proposing a second HLS) and the HLS need to be designed for the deep space environment. Yet again, until the HLS is ready, no one from NASA is landing on the Moon. So even supposing it takes 20 years to get a radiation-hardened HLS, that won't change anything. Whenever the HLS design is ready, we might as well use it for all of Artemis' beyond LEO flight.

The funding models for SLS and Starship are also very different. NASA funding for the HLS is milestone based, and only paid after completing previously agreed upon milestones. SLS is funded in advance through Congress (often getting more than the administration requests). All of Boeing et al's costs are paid for plus a bonus, i.e. cost plus. (In theory, their poor performance should nix the plus part, but that didn't happen.)

Edit: typos


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6ambib wrote

Hey I love all the money invested in the commercial flight program and the possibility of 100 tons to LEO in a fully reusable vehicle even if it looks like it will take as long as the SLS to develop and test. Me pointing out Starship starting in 2015 and launching a fully crewed rocket and landing it reusably in 2023 is a compliment [Edit: Looks like Elon says crewed test launch of starship wouldn’t be until 2025 most likely but my point still stands]. SpaceX and the odyssey of Falcon Heavy to BFR and Red Dragon to Starship was great, just saying SpaceX steps on its own toes like NASA did when over promising timelines on unproven technology and manufacturing, and the public misses how much they truly moved the ball forward. Two steps forward, one step back and all that. My argument was with the statement that 3-4 day transit to lunar orbit with even a Block I SLS payload would never have worked with Falcon Heavy and it looks like the press and NASA asked SpaceX the same question and the response a few months later with scrapping Falcon Heavy and Red dragon completely for Starship’s 150ton and later once the raptors were proven, 100 ton to LEO platform which will meet SpaceX’s original price per kg/LEO goals back in 2014 or beat them.

SpaceX has had access to NASA’s data on hypersonic active cooling systems for decades, but it didn’t stop them from spending several years of Starship R&D on ablative cooling before abandoning it. I can’t explain the SpaceX admin avoiding building flame trenches and shockwave deluges systems for the largest rocket ever built when China, India and USSR all followed NASA’s Saturn V lead. All I can guess is they are gonna do what the executives want the engineers to do, and in that order. Good news is after all the partial fire pad damages in Starbase, SpaceX last week is shipping deluge and flame trench equipment on barges to Starbase hopefully before the full test.


OlympusMons94 t1_j6arh8y wrote

I fail to see what crewed launch/landing of Starship from/on Earth with crew has to do with anything I said. Or for the most part, Falcon Heavy going to the Moon either. Once the upper stage, be it Falcon's or ICPS, performs the TLI burn in LEO parking orbit, its job is done. They don't need to do anything at or near the Moon.(Perhaps you mean Dragon launched by FH, but I'm not suggesting that either.)

What I am saying is that you can't land people on the Moon without a moon lander, which is a spacecraft capable of supporting humans in deep space. SLS and Orion being ready first or not doesn't change that. Between the generic Moon lander requirements, and the requirements imposed on the HLS (by waiting in NRHO for Orion then going back and forth from there to the surface), the HLS must be a very substantial spacecraft.

If the HLS Starship is capable of supporting humans in NRHO and to and from the Moon, it is just as capable of supporting humans in space between LEO and NRHO. The delta-v required to go from LEO to NRHO and back to LEO is much less than required by the actual lander. So a spacecraft identical to the HLS could serve as the ferry between LEO and NRHO. We already have capsules capable of taking crew to and from LEO, and docking with spacecraft (be it the ISS or the HLS copy). Therefore, by the time the HLS is ready and SLS/Orion have a use, SLS/Orion could be replaced by a copy of the HLS and currently existing vehicles.


Correct_Inspection25 t1_j6asw5t wrote

HLS depends on LSS and a number of other starship tests beyond LEO, without at least LEO, I am curious how SpaceX will show NASA the HLS starship and in orbit refueling will be ready. You should definitely read the 1970 SLS NASA detailed proposal, it was close to that. It used the MULE/NERVA with 500-1000s ISP that had been tested on the ground and ready for the TLI dedicated lunar presence. There was a shuttle for LEO transfer (sadly dropped to the side of the tank and landable boosters were cut in the abandonment of the space race in 1972), situated on the top of a heavy lift booster, both of which reusable. Sadly it was cut due to the fact the Nixon administration considered the space race won, and the research and development money was better spent on Vietnam.

I don’t really care who wins, just that cost plus contracting is abandoned, and we keep the speed up now we have a Cold War like space race motivating politicians, and the western funding of human presence in deep space flowing to as diverse a basket of opportunities as possible.


HandsOfCobalt t1_j6bl7bt wrote

The next frontier of lunar exploration is gonna be lava tubes, and neither NASA nor ESA are gonna use humans for that (at least at first). I agree that nothing but SLS can put humans back on the Moon, but I still think the money would be better spent on robotic missions that could do all the same science, and then some, without the added cost of human-rating or the added risk (or eventuality) of deaths putting a damper on mission goals.

I still don't understand why putting humans on the moon again is on the table besides "well China says they're gonna do it, so... we gotta do it first to stake a claim."