NASA Space Launch System / Artemis 1 Rollout

The first NASA Space Launch System {SLS} rocket and Orion spacecraft for the unmanned Artemis 1 mission is scheduled to roll out to the launch pad today. Coverage is scheduled to start at 16:00 UTC. This roll out is to place the vehicle and mobile launcher on the pad for fit tests and an eventual wet (fueled) countdown demonstration test. After these have been completed, the stack will be returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building for further work and preparation before returning to the pad for launch.

This unmanned flight around the Moon, not counting R&D costs for the rocket, spacecraft, and ground support equipment, is estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers around US$ 4.1 billion. The first launch of SLS was originally scheduled for 2016, and has been delayed nine times so far.


The US “government” just passed a bill which no-one had read to spend $1,500 Billion dollars – dollars they still need to print. What is a mere $4.1 Billion dollars? We are so wealthy it is mere roundoff. (Should I add /Sarcasm)?

According to Thomas Fleming’s book “The New Dealers’ War”, FDR and his cronies were desperate to have Operation Torch in World War II happen immediately before the US elections, to boost shaky Democrat chances. (That was the invasion of North Africa in November 1942). Fortunately, the Non-Woke military in those days refused to invade countries on an election schedule.

What about NASA today? Will it time the Artemis mission for political effect? Or will it postpone the mission until after the November elections in case something goes wrong?

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Given the scheduling precision of SLS to date (if you consider the original Constellation Ares V and SLS as the evolution of a single program, which it basically is: same components, same mission, same payload, it has been under development for 17 years) I doubt they think in a next election time horizon, but rather in terms of administrations, if that. The original idea of a return to the Moon by 2024 seems clearly to have been motivated in part as a signature achievement of a second Trump administration, but in the minds of all but the NASA public affairs department, had slipped well beyond that before the 2020 election.

I doubt a failure of SLS on this launch would make much of a ripple politically. Support for it in congress is bipartisan in the sense that it is driven by which districts and states are getting SLS pork instead of party and ideology. A big, ugly failure would probably kill SLS, which would be an excellent outcome for NASA and the development of space.


Roll-out is scheduled to start at 21:00 UTC. Since the crawler moves around 1.3 km/hour, it will take around 11 hours to reach the pad, so there’s plenty of opportunity to watch it in progress.


Revised estimate for first motion is now 22:00 UTC. It wouldn’t be SLS if there weren’t delay after delay.


If the “hosted” podcast is too chatty or marred by technical problems, the roll-out is now being streamed on the NASA TV channel.

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