Video: Bridenstine Proposes Using Commercial Rockets for First Orion Mission Around Moon

  • Jeff2Space

    Good. From what I’ve read on Twitter a study has been going on inside NASA on using commercial launch vehicles to launch Orion. Reportedly we’ll get details next week.

    Also, I cringe whenever SLS is described as “the largest rocket that has ever been built in American history” because it is simply wrong. Saturn V put larger payloads into LEO than SLS will ever be capable of putting into LEO.

  • P.K. Sink

    Thanks for the video Doug. This is gonna be fun.

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    well, yes and no. Your (correctly) assuming they won’t build the larger versions.

  • newpapyrus

    For the first unmanned Orion/Service Module test mission, two Delta IV Heavy launches would probably be required.

    Once the SLS is operational, then the Orion/Service Module could deploy crews and large Gateway components to NRHO with a single SLS launch.

    Without the SLS, a commercial crew launch plus two Delta IV heavy (or two Vulcan Heavy) launches would probably be required for a manned mission to NRHO. If the Vulcan Heavy is man-rated then perhaps only two Vulcan launches would be required for a crew mission to NRHO.

    However, the development of Lockheed Martin’s reusable lunar landing vehicle for the NRHO Gateway could make the Orion/Service Module obsolete. Propellant depots located at NRHO would enable the large reusable lunar landing vehicle to conduct round trip crew missions between NRHO and the lunar surface. But such delta-v capability would also make the lunar lander easily capable of transporting astronauts between LEO and NRHO using propellant depots located at both LEO and NRHO. A single SLS launch could probably deploy at least two or three of the reusable Lockheed Martin lunar landing vehicles to LEO for crewed cis-lunar missions.


  • James

    Biggest Paper rocket!

  • Robert G. Oler

    if this works out it is 1) the end of SLS and 2) a very clever move on behalf of the Administrator who in light of this might need reevaluating

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    SLS needs to go, like in the way “needs to go” is used in the Sopranos. In the meantime I love the idea of getting stuff done and lighting a flipping fire under Huntsville.

  • Terry Stetler
  • 76 er

    I agree. On one hand Senator Shelby publicly tells the director of the Marshall Spaceflight Center that he’ll be happy to provide funds for SLS no matter the expense or delay. On the other the NASA administrator is stating that further delays are not acceptable and commercial alternatives are available if Marshall isn’t able to get SLS built and flying. We’ll see what happens when the pork hits the fan.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    I interpreted that as Boeing squeezed ULA to say it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    When I was riding my bike this afternoon after a three day…I gave this some thought. there are a couple of “possible” irons in the fire here

    First Trump wants some space “thing” to go along with his 2020 campaign..and my guess is that the folks inAlabama have been telling the administrator that there is going to be no SLS space spectacular in 2020.

    Second the game my finally be running out on SLS ie its the tent in the pole and if it cannot fly nothing flies in terms of any future NASA HSF project…

    three there has to be some way to “soft stop it”…ie shift the politics to where they start working against more money…

    all in all this might be the Administrators try (with maybe some WH backing) to tell Shelby. “this dog starts hunting or I”ll find one that will, because I need a space “thing” to happen in 2020 while I am running for POTUS”

  • Terry Stetler

    So did I.

    Between this and the B737 Max mess they’re having a crappy week.

  • savuporo

    But SLS is still very critical … LOL but two launch scenario. Once this happens, the entire point of heavy lift will be moot

  • WhoAmI

    Ugh… Doesn’t sound like Falcon Heavy has a chance to compete for this one. :-/

  • Vladislaw

    What is the lead time to build a Delta IV heavy? thought it was a couple years?

  • Vladislaw

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    Clothing, namely, shirts, sweaters, and hats

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  • ThomasLMatula

    You are forgetting that Rep. Bridenstine has been a “New Space” guy since he owned is own Rocket Racing League team. And that this is the first budget he helped to draw up as Administrator. The folks in the Alabama Pork Machine knew his background which is why they delayed his approval for as long as they could do so.

  • ThomasLMatula

    No its not remarkable. Remember who owns ULA. They aren’t going to trade a few hundred millions for a Delta IV launch when they will be able to drain tens of billions from taxpayers with the SLS/Orion. I expect Lockheed will also put out some nonsense about it being impossible to launch the Orion with the Service Module on anything except the SLS.

    So this sets the stage to dump the Orion as well and go with the Dragon2 on a Falcon Heavy lift.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Lockheed will pull every political lever it has access to in order to prevent SpaceX from coming anywhere near the Orion gravy train, on ground or in orbit. All the more reason to dump it along with the SLS and go with the Dragon2 to support NASA’s Cislunar plans.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yep, and they also seem to be lagging on the CST-100. Its first demonstration flight is suppose to be next month but no word if they are still on schedule for it. Does anyone know if they have started stacking it yet?

  • ThomasLMatula

    Well it appears that Senator Shelby has made his first statement on it.

    NASA may take first Orion capsule launch from SLS
    Updated Mar 13, 4:52 PM; Posted Mar 13, 4:32 PM

    “The idea of using commercial boosters quickly met with skepticism from U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “While I agree that the delay in the SLS launch schedule is unacceptable,” Shelby said, “I firmly believe that SLS should launch the Orion.”


  • Robert G. Oler

    LOL sure

  • Robert G. Oler

    yes you should do this…Dennis is a space guy

  • Robert G. Oler

    its coming…:)

  • ThomasLMatula

    I am sure it is. But in addition to being behind SpaceX in their uncrew demonstration flight they are also behind SpaceX in their pad abort test, SpaceX having done their pad abort years ago. There is no slack for Boeing to fix anything if either goes wrong.

  • duheagle

    Even Block 2 can’t match Saturn V. SLS has one hydrolox upper stage. Saturn V had two.

  • duheagle

    Your conclusions are impeccable. No reevaluation needed, though, by those of us who’ve liked most everything else Bridenstine has done as Administrator and who we sensed was not an SLS fan in his heart of hearts.

  • duheagle

    Space Mail!

  • duheagle

    I’m sure Trump wants a space “thing” in 2020, but probably not as much as V.P. Pence. Pence would:

    1) like to be “re-upped” as V.P. for the 2020 campaign,

    2) wants Trump to win, obviously, because…

    3) he wants to succeed Trump in the Presidency in 2024.

    The National Space Council is Pence’s main avenue to national stature. He needs to demonstrate that he – and Mr. B., of course – are guys who can make things happen.

  • Robert G. Oler

    its more tied then that…we will see