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-1

The answer is: to avoid a complete space shutdown like occurred from 2003 - 2006. After the Columbia shuttle disaster, the space shuttle program was suspended from Feb 1 2003 to July 4 2006. By having its only means of getting a man to space suspended, the USA had to rely on other countries. And dependence on other countries is one of those things America ...


4

The answer is that SLS's prime purpose isn't a launch system, it's a jobs project. NASA was required to use 45 year old engine technology to ensure that jobs and contracts were funneled to Old Space contractors. There is no way a clean sheet NASA design for a large launch system to support manned deep space missions cost effectively would ever: • Re-use RS-...


13

All the answers are right in their own way. One thing that is not addressed: The Falcon Heavy is not even remotly on par with the SLS in terms of rocket diameter and payload mass. According to Wikipedia (Falcon Heavy, SLS) the Falcon Heavy can launch 63 tonnes to LEO while SLS can deliver a whopping 95 tonnes in the Block 1 configuration which (if everthing ...


12

Part of it is leveling employment. The government is fond of large projects that require multi-year ramp-up and ramp-down and massive up/down swings in employment need. Suppose in 2019 you're hiring every rocket scientist in town for project X. 2023, you lay them all off because the project is done. Then project Y arrives, a modification on an existing ...


15

Eh, to begin with this statement isn't accurate. SpaceX ... has the same capabilities if not better? Falcon Heavy as stands can't replace SLS and launch Orion on the required orbit without significant modification. (and even if Falcon Heavy could launch Orion, it wouldn't be able to dual manifest Gateway modules) Dragon isn't comparable in capabilities to ...


56

It is still way too early to make such a judgement. It's easy to be overly optimistic about the cost of a program. The Space Shuttle was supposed to have dozens of flights each year and be super-cheap because it was reusable. However, you simply don't know the true cost until a program has been in use for several years. After several years of the Shuttle, ...


6

We have the capability to launch this already, so it is feasible, just very expensive when there are better alternatives. A spacecraft as you describe isn't just 50 tons of solar panels, you need a huge structure to hold them on, huge amounts of maneuvering fuel to align the spacecraft, extremely powerful gyros, and other elements that would have to be super-...


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