CONGRESS IS NOT A GOOD STEWARD OF YOUR MONEY: NASA just announced in a blog post that SLS will cost 30% more.
After discussing this and other details, Lueders then rather casually let it slip that, “NASA also aligned the development costs for the SLS and Exploration Ground Systems programs through Artemis I and established new cost commitments.” The new development cost for SLS rocket is $9.1 billion, she said, and its budget for the initial ground systems to support the mission is now $2.4 billion.
Left unsaid: This represents a 33-percent increase for the rocket since 2017, when a “re-plan” of program estimated development costs for the rocket, including a single test flight, would be $7.17 billion. (This was detailed in a US General Accounting Office report published nearly a year ago.) This figure represents only direct development costs. NASA has received more than $20 billion from Congress since 2011 for SLS development and related activities.
At the time of the “re-plan” in 2017, NASA established a “December 2019-June 2020” date for the first test launch of the SLS rocket. This was a delay from earlier plans to launch it by the end of 2017.
Those are just the most recent figures. We’ll see what further fixes and modifications might be required after the “green run” test firing, currently penciled in for sometime this autumn.
And from an Ars Technica commenter:
Congress has paid $20b for a rocket that is still a year away from flight using 40+ year old designs, with a current projected cost of $40b for 4 flights, and a maximum possible payload SOME DAY of 130t. And every single stack that goes up is 100% disposable.
SpaceX is already flying grain silos in the middle of a desert for orders of magnitude less, on a rocket concept with never-seen-before engines, a fuel system which can harvest new fuel almost anywhere, and will have a 30% higher theoretical maximum payload. And every single stack that goes up comes back down and goes back up again.