Orion and SLS deficiency model


After 48 years, we turned back to our closest celestial body, the moon. But this time it will take 8 years of hard work and over 100 billion dollars if we use the gateway, Orion and SLS. It took more than 9 years of work and more than 17 billion dollar to construct the Orion, even after doing so it has many limitations, technical problems and budget issues. Today, I am going to show you the Orion and SLS deficiency model.

Weight is the most important for any spacecraft’s success. The heavier the rocket, the more thrust needed to get it off the ground. Orion is one of the heaviest space crafts ever built. It is impossible to launch it with current technology, leaving only one option - the SLS, that’s extremely costly and according to Jim Bridenstine, lunar human space flight doesn’t require super-heavy-lift rockets, it could be launched with Falcon Heavy on a small fraction of the cost, heavily improved flight rate, and with much greater safety. It would lower the cost by 4.5 billion dollars per launch.

Orion's propellant load limitation makes it difficult to access smaller, low energy lunar orbits leaving it with only one option the NRHO, which is located far away from the surface and needs a gateway to be launched. Using costliest and the strongest rocket ever built Orion cannot land directly on the surface of moon.

According to the OIG report, Orion's limitations cost NASA 8.9 billion dollars annually. Its delays required an additional 1.2 billion dollars and postponed the mission by 3 years. The gateway also has many cost problems like:

  1. The International Space Station costs 150 billion dollars even one fourth the scale, the lunar gateway will easily cost around 40 billion dollars.
  2. According to NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine the extra cost for astronauts to go to moon and return will be between 20 billion to 30 billion dollars.
  3.   Based on estimate given to CNN, NASA is going to need additional 6 billion dollar each year for the next 5 years to make landing possible.
  4. Going to gateway adds 17% to the fuel cost for the trip to the moon which wastes both resources and cost and each SLS launch costs more than 2.5 billion dollars and definitely multiple launches are needed for Artemis mission.
  5. Using moon as staging point for journey to mars also increases the usage of propellant and also its cost, because of lack of atmosphere on moon, which makes it impossible to use air breaks. This makes us completely dependent on fuel.
  6.  Out of the total budget for lunar gateway most of the money will be invested for the engine development, transporting hardware and propellant to lunar orbit and for maintenance and propellant replenishment costs.
  7. Using the Orion, SLS and gateway would mean more than 5 billion dollars per launch; this wastes the whole budget and makes it impossible for humans to go to mars in 2030's or 2040's.

The Gateway concept is about building around the deficiencies of Orion and SLS, yet there are other modes of transportation that can further our efforts in space. Covid-19 has delayed our Gateway efforts, yet China and UAE are already planning to go to Mars this July, where the focus has been shifted anyway.

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