SLS Reactions: Yea to Argghhh!

The response to NASA’s Space Launch System announcement yesterday has fallen into a couple of familiar grooves: cautious joy tempered with what took so long? irritation among the program’s supporters in Huntsville, Utah, Texas and other locales where people will be working on the monster rocket; and consternation and apocalyptic warnings from leading NewSpace advocates, who today were greeted with news that Congress has proposed cutting the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program from $850 million to $500 million.

And you were expecting uh….what, exactly?

The handy table below gives a representation of the various reactions.


Sen. Richard Shelby

“I am pleased that the Obama administration has finally agreed with Congress that SLS is the only viable option to maintain America’s leadership in human space flight.

However, we have not yet seen the details of this decision. Accordingly, I will continue to monitor this situation very closely to see whether the administration implements the 130-metric ton SLS plan as enacted by Congress.

It is my hope to see thousands of our brightest scientists and engineers – in Alabama and across the country – put to work immediately and without interruption to bring this plan to fruition. We simply cannot afford to allow our global competitive advantage in human space flight to erode any further.”

Space Frontier Foundation

“Senator Nelson called the SLS a monster rocket and he’s right,” Bob Werb, co-founder and chairman of the board for Space Frontier Foundation. “Although they’re trying to dress it up in the colors of the Saturn V, it’s a Frankenstein rocket, built from rotting remnants of left over Congressional pork. And its budgetary footprints will stamp out all the missions it is supposed to carry, kill our astronaut program and destroy science and technology projects throughout NASA.”

The Foundation is certain that much like Constellation before it, the Senate Launch System will never stay within its budget or schedule, and in the end will be cancelled. SLS will become the most cannibalistic program in NASA’s history, consuming innovative programs attempting to lower costs by using commercial firms to fly astronauts into space, new technologies that would make exploration more affordable, and of course the payloads the new rocket is supposed to carry.”

The Senate’s new Franken-rocket will fail, it will waste billions, it will never fly and it will destroy what little credibility our space program has left.” said Foundation Executive Director Will Watson, “It is an un-American solution to a challenge we can solve in an American way with our own commercial space flight companies. If it is not stopped the SLS monster will be a death sentence for NASA’s once great human space flight program.”


Alliant Techsystems

ATK applauds NASA’s decision to move forward with a Space Launch System for human deep space exploration. We are proud that NASA will utilize ATK’s five-segment solid rocket motors as the baseline design for the initial flights. ATK’s five-segment boosters provide unmatched capability and we will deliver this performance within the current budget. We are confident in the design and look forward to the early test flights to demonstrate our capability. We are also well positioned to compete for the final design because of our proven performance and a thrust-to-weight ratio of our solid rocket motors which are ideally suited for first stage propulsionRep. Dana Rohrabacher “Today, NASA announced its new design for a deep space exploration system, including a new ‘monster rocket’ based on 40-year-old Space Shuttle technology in an attempt to recapture the glory days of the Apollo Saturn V,”said Rohrabacher.“To meet the challenges of the 21st century we need bold, creative thinking and new technology development, like on-orbit fuel depots.”

“Nostalgic rocketry is not how great nations invent their future,” proclaimed Rohrabacher. “There’s nothing new or innovative in this approach, especially its astronomical price tag, and that’s the real tragedy.

“Unfortunately, after a number of years, perhaps during development or after just a few flights like Saturn, budget pressures will bring this program to an end. Jobs that some politicians are bragging today about saving will be gone, while the new jobs based on new technologies and new enterprises will remain uncreated, because we chose repeating the past over inventing the future.”