On the surface, you would think that SpaceX launch tower would be more costly with its mechanical arms, but I doubt it touches the cost of the SLS'. Is this mainly due to the use of hydrogen, or are there other root causes of the high cost for SLS' infrastructure outside of blatant government waste?


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SpaceX took a different approach than SLS. First of all, they broke it into segments, built them on the ground, designed to be hooked up. And they plan on building many of them. (3 so far are constructed, Boca Chica was first, LC-39A is second, and there is a third sitting at Roberts Rd (all segments but the top two which is a short segment and the final cap piece). In theory they would be building one more for Boca Chica, 2 more for Phobos/Deimos (The oil rigs they bought) and maybe more.

Building three, and knowing you likely will build more, is a different design than building a single one. (Not even gonna talk about government contracts vs private enterprise, since that is a real and huge issue, but a very hot topic).

There is a benefit to NOT using hydrogen. The piping is not as complex, since Methane, Nitrogen, and Oxygen are not as leaky and sneaky as hydrogen.

Also they have no crew access arm on Starship at the moment either. SLS's tower is mobile, and has to go with the crawler plate, vs a tower that sits still.

All these differences cause vast differences in pricing and costs.


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