Monday, November 3, 2014

The Great SLS Debate

On Sunday, November 16 at 4PM Eastern Standard time, the globally popular online program The Space Show will host a live debate regarding the merits of NASA’s controversial rocket known as the Space Launch System, AKA SLS.  Arguing for SLS will be John Hunt (a former military aerospace professional), while the contrary position will be supported by Rick Boozer (Space Development Steering Committee member, astrophysicist and author of the book, The Plundering of NASA).  Dr. David Livingston will be the host and moderator of the debate.

Its supporters claim that SLS will allow NASA to return to the Moon and go to points beyond. Its detractors claim it will actually prevent the achievement of that goal (wasting many billions of dollars of taxpayer money in the process) and thus refer to SLS as “The Rocket to Nowhere”.  It is the latter faction’s contention that there are more modern, more economical, safer and easier to implement alternatives to SLS for American deep space travel.

Tune in to see which side makes the best case about how our nation’s future in space should be conducted.  A recording of the debate will be available for free download a couple of days after it airs.


  1. Unkind. The debate is a slam-dunk. SLS has no excuse for existence other than Congressional log-rolling.

    1. Yeah, I agree with you, Brian. But there are a whole lot of people who have not gotten the word (as the response to the Orion PR stunt showed) to the detriment of U.S. spaceflight. But as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, sometimes we must be "cruel to be kind".

  2. The first time Dragon lands on its Draco engines will enlighten many, I suspect.

  3. I heard the debate. In the months since, I’ve come to the conclusion that the core issue is a balance between technology readiness levels (TRLs) and destinations, i.e., you can only go somewhere that the technology allows you to go. Going back to the Moon was effectively re-building what we already had, and should have been a fast, easy step. Sending humans to an asteroid far beyond Earth has proven to be beyond what current TRLs will support; so now we have ARM, and an increasingly messy situation.

    There was some unique capability in Huntsville and elsewhere, and I sense anxiety in letting this capability retire, die off, and generally go to waste. My interpretation is that they are trying to salvage what’s left. And then you wrap this up in jobs. I confess; jobs are generally good. But the end result is, many have lost sight of building a credible human space strategy.

    I’m finally beginning to see hope that some of these capabilities (people, etc.) are being integrated into commercial efforts, public/private partnership, etc. But the various prohibitions (e.g., we’re not doing the Moon) and tunnel vision need to be fixed. Unfortunately, I’m now at the point of not trusting anyone’s presidential leadership in this area. In fact, a presidential edict may be counter-productive.