NASA is building a gorgeous new rocket it can't afford to fly

Visitors on a bus tour from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center make a stop at the historic Redstone test site, a National Historic Landmark at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Huntsville, Ala.( Smiley N. Pool / Houston Chronicle )


Visitors on a bus tour from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center make a stop at the historic Redstone test site, a National Historic Landmark at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Huntsville, Ala.( Smiley N. Pool / Houston Chronicle )

In the Houston Chronicle today, the second in a multi-part series on how totally fucked NASA is right now. "In this installment, we examine NASA’s efforts to build and fly a heavy-lift rocket in a time of constrained budgets."

Eric Berger writes:

The Space Launch System, or SLS, is the seed - a super-sized rocket NASA hasn't had in decades. If everything goes right for May, NASA can build this rocket that can again take humans beyond low-Earth orbit where they have remained confined for 40 years. The catch is this: Washington isn’t giving NASA nearly enough money to actually do this.

The task of rocket building gobbles up so much of NASA’s meager exploration budget there’s no money left to develop payloads; the spacecraft, the living quarters, rovers or all of the stuff NASA needs if it wants to send humans to the moon, the surface of an asteroid or Mars.

For this reason critics, and there are many, have dubbed the SLS a “rocket to nowhere.”

Don't miss part one, either: "As NASA seeks next mission, Russia holds the trump card."

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