The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

NASA has reached a milestone in its development of the Space Launch System, or SLS, which is set to be the most powerful rocket ever and may one day take astronauts to Mars.

After completing a critical design review, Boeing Co. has finalized a $2.8 billion contract with the space agency. The deal allows full production on the rocket to begin.

“Our teams have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the SLS — the largest ever — will be built safely, affordably and on time,” Virginia Barnes, Boeing’s Space Launch System vice president and program manager, said in a statement.

The last time NASA’s completed a critical design review of a deep-space human rocket was 1961, when the space agency assessed the mighty Saturn V, which ultimately took man to the moon.

Work on the 321-foot Space Launch System is spread throughout Southern California, including Boeing’s avionics team in Huntington Beach. The rocket’s core stage will get its power from four RS-25 engines for former space shuttle main engines built by Aerojet Rocketdyne of Canoga Park.

The rocket will carry the Orion spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., which can carry up to four astronauts beyond low Earth orbit on long-duration, deep-space destinations including near-Earth asteroids, the moon, and ultimately Mars.

The rocket, which is designed to carry crew and cargo, is scheduled for its initial test flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2017.

The first mission will launch an empty Orion spacecraft. The second mission is targeted for 2021 and will launch Orion and a crew of up to four NASA astronauts.

The rocket’s initial flight-test configuration will provide a 77-ton lift capacity. The final evolved two-stage configuration will be able to lift more than 143 tons.

Photo: Luke Bryant via Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

An aerial view of post-tornado Mayfield, Kentucky at Christmas, 2021

In its ranking of business values, corporate America proudly provides a special place for elevated moral behavior. That place is the trash can.

Indeed, several years ago, free-market extremist Milton Friedman actually decreed that the only ethical obligation a corporation has to society is to deliver as much profit as possible to its big investors — everybody else be damned. Any awfulness caused by their self-indulgent policy of profit maximization is excused by claiming that their iniquities "broke no laws." But — hello — they write the laws, intentionally defining corporate immorality as always technically legal.

Keep reading... Show less

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders said that by vowing to uphold the archaic Senate rule standing in the way of voting rights legislation, his Senate colleagues Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are putting "the future of American democracy" at risk.

"It is a sad day when two members of the Democratic caucus are prepared to allow the Freedom to Vote Act to fail," the Vermont senator tweeted on Friday "I hope very much they will reconsider their positions."

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}