Those who saw the recent GAO report about NASA programs were not surprised when the first launch of the heavy-lift space launch system had slipped to 2019. However, social media exploded with cried of outrage from armchair aerospace engineers who were opposed to the rocket from the beginning and are seizing on the news to demand its cancellation. Afer all, those stodgy, bureaucracy-bound incompetents at NASA will have missed the launch date first mandated by Congress by three years.

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However, large Aerospace Projects have a tendency to cost more and take longer than initially envisioned. It is a problem that is not unique to NASA, however. For example, when SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy was first envisioned, the initial launch date was supposed to be in 2011. The most current launch date for the Falcon Heavy is slated for late summer 2017, a six-year delay.

The Falcon Heavy delay does not mean that Elon Musk’s engineers are blundering fools, any more than the SLS delay means the same is the case for those who work for NASA’s contractors.

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New development of space hardware always involves unknowns. These kinds of projects try to maintain a reserve in their budgets to account for unexpected problems. Sometimes the problems are so great that the reserves get drained. And solving anything unforeseen is going to eat up time.

The delay to 2019 may be a blessing in disguise. The Trump administration is keen to put a crew on the first flight of the Orion deep spacecraft to be launched atop the SLS.

That change in mission would have pushed the first mission into 2019 in any case. NASA has completed its study of what it would take to launch the first people around the moon in over 45 years. The decision has to be made soon since the NASA appropriations bill had to be finished by October of this year and would need to incorporate the extra money it would take to make a crewed deep space flight happen.

In any case, the Space Launch System is not going to be canceled. No will exists to do it either in Congress or the Trump White House. People who take to their keyboards and flood social media with demands such a thing happen are wasting their time and that of anyone who reads their posts.

Deep-sixing the SLS is not a panacea for what ails the space agency is not very useful in any case. The problem NASA has been laboring under for the past few years has been a lack of direction, leadership, and especially money.

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Addressing those three difficulties will go a long way toward opening up the high frontier of space/ Religious wars over rockets will not.

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