Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) received confirmation this week that Space Launch System (SLS) will be the rocket propelling Americans to the moon in 2024.
SLS is a specialized launch vehicle designed, developed and managed by Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. SLS has been billed as the only rocket powerful enough to carry the Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies to the moon in one launch.
Shelby gained the assurance from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at a Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) subcommittee hearing on NASA’s budget. CJS is a subcommittee of the powerful Senate Committee on Appropriations chaired by Shelby.
Having stated his belief in a “unified and clear direction” for those involved in sending American astronauts to the moon, Shelby voiced his concern about comments made by Bridenstine, previously.
“Ambiguity on options and the program I think only detracts from a lot of these efforts, and some of the recent comments made by you and others have arguably created confusion,” Shelby stated. “It has with me.”
The senior senator from Alabama then provided Bridenstine with an opportunity to express his views on SLS.
“We have looked at options and we have determined that the only option where we are going to be able to put humans on the surface of the moon in 2024, which is my mandate, is to utilize the SLS,” Bridenstine said. “Which will be, by far, the most powerful rocket in the American inventory. Nothing, in fact in the world, nothing comes close.”
Bridenstine also agreed with Shelby that SLS can be employed for other missions.
He pointed to travel to Europa, a moon around Jupiter. He explained that SLS can cut down travel time to Europa from seven years to three and a half years.
“It’s very capable asset for the United States of America,” Bridenstine added. “It’s really the only rocket that we’re going to have capable of taking our humans to the moon by 2024.”
“What’s important is to build that rocket and build it right,” concluded Shelby.
Glad to hear @NASA Administrator @JimBridenstine confirm that #SLS is the only launch vehicle capable of achieving a successful crewed lunar landing mission in 2024. I look forward to working with him to make this happen. https://t.co/zkhbicZPIf
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) May 2, 2019
A variety of essential SLS components are being built by Alabama companies, according to NASA:
The Boeing Company in Huntsville is building the SLS core stage … Teledyne Brown Engineering of Huntsville, Alabama has built the launch vehicle stage adapter that will connect SLS’s core stage to the upper part of the rocket … The initial capability to propel Orion out of Earth’s orbit for Block 1 will come from the ICPS, based on the Delta Cryogenic Second Stage used successfully on [Decatur, Alabama] United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV family of rockets.
Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News