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Those who had hoped to see the long-awaited first rocket launch of NASA’s Artemis will have to wait still longer, as Monday’s moon mission was postponed indefinitely on account of a problem with the cooling system for the rocket’s engines:

Thousands of people had packed the beaches, roadsides, rooftops and waterways. Some even camped overnight in hopes of seeing NASA’s giant new moon rocket launch for the first time, rising upward with a thunderous boom and jets of fire from its engines.

“We are going,” proclaimed NASA banners hung all around the space center. Even Vice President Kamala Harris was on hand.

But on Monday, the rocket did not go, and NASA officials said it was too early to guess whether it might be able to launch Friday, the next potential opportunity, or later. Mission managers will meet on Tuesday to discuss their next steps.

Although no astronauts are to be on board, the rocket — what NASA calls the Space Launch System — would usher in a new era of human exploration, including sending the first woman and the first person of color to the surface of the moon.


We covered the disastrous Space Launch System in an earlier piece as follows:

To this day, the most powerful rocket in US history remains the F-1 rocket engine. This was the engine used to propel the Apollo moon missions. But today, American rocket engineers are incapable of reproducing the F-1. They remarkably lack the skills and know-how to match earlier achievements from generations ago.

In other words, antiquated technology is as elusive to us today as future technology. America’s reached its high water mark for a task as rote and mechanical as rocket power over 50 years ago.

It’s not for lack of throwing money at the problem. The Space Launch System (“SLS”) was supposed to be NASA’s solution to rocket impotence problem. NASA began development on SLS 10 years ago, and despite costs to taxpayers ballooning up to $20 billion and counting, it still has never even launched.

NASA’s SLS has done nothing but miss deadlines, fail tests, and burn through budgets for a decade. It’s a beached whale, just like the JWST.

And like with the James Webb Telescope (JWST), military contractors have cleaned out the US Treasury’s piggy bank as they failed their way forward. For the SLS, the prime contractor is Boeing.

Read the Rest: NASA, Decrepit, Woke, and Desperate, Is 14 Years Late on Hubble Replacement. Why?

We learn from the Times’ coverage of Monday’s failed launch that the total cost so far of NASA’s SLS program has increased from 20 billion to a whopping 40 billion dollars and counting:

Although no astronauts are to be on board, the rocket — what NASA calls the Space Launch System — would usher in a new era of human exploration, including sending the first woman and the first person of color to the surface of the moon.

The first mission is scheduled to be a weekslong flight around the moon to test both the rocket and the Orion crew capsule where astronauts will sit on future missions. In particular, NASA wants to make sure that the heat shield on Orion can survive a fiery entry through Earth’s atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour, the speed of a spacecraft returning from the moon.

Monday’s scrubbed launch added another delay to the moon program, named Artemis, which has already cost more than $40 billion and is years behind schedule. The program, including the giant rocket, has nonetheless received steady support from Congress and NASA officials.

It is instructive to compare the price tag of Artemis, the new lunar space program that aims to launch the first woman, person of color, and shemale onto the moon, with the Apollo program—NASA’s pioneer lunar program that encompassed multiple manned moon missions, including the very first in human history.

The 40 billion dollar price tag so far for the new Artemis lunar program (which encompasses the SLS rocket) already amounts to nearly one fourth of the 200 billion dollar inflation adjusted cost of the entire Apollo program.

It is important to keep in mind that this inflation-adjusted 200 billion dollar price tag for Apollo included research and development, government contracts, labor, and every other aspect of the decade long program. Crucially, this involved the cost of inventing from scratch new space technology that had never been tested before in human history — special rocket engines, command modules, lunar landers, computer equipment, and all of the remarkable component parts. Within each broad category of innovation you have an arresting volume of sub-categories, for instance, multiple rockets for each stage of a launch.

NASA’s new Artemis lunar program, by contrast, has already cost nearly one fourth of the entire Apollo program and it hasn’t even gotten off of the ground! This is especially humiliating given the fact that we have already gotten to the moon, multiple times. The hard part has already been done. One would think if the Apollo program cost 200 billion (in inflation adjusted dollars) the same lunar feat should cost a fraction of that in 2022. Indeed, one would think the cost efficiencies of over a half century of technological advancement would at least offset the cost of inflation.

And yet, to our great humiliation, despite 40 billion spent on the Artemis program that hasn’t even gotten off the ground, we haven’t gotten close to replicating a technological feat (manned moon mission) we accomplished over a half century ago with pocket calculator, slide rule technology!

Despite (or perhaps because of) NASA’s astonishing lack of progress in replicating or surpassing the Apollo moon missions, sweet sounding “moon shot” promises have become a staple of Presidential rhetoric.

Here is President Bush in 2004 pledging to put another man on the moon by 2020. Despite billions upon billions spent on the Constellation lunar program, this of course never happened.

Filled to the brim with confidence over the Constellation lunar failure, President Obama decided the moon mission wasn’t ambitious enough. After all, we’ve already “been there.” Why not try to put an astronaut on an asteroid, and then go to Mars by the mid 2030s, Obama said in the following speech:

Vice President Pence, who led space efforts for the Trump Administration, turned NASA’s sights back to lunar travel—with the ambitious plan of landing a human on the moon by 2024 (which obviously is far from happening as well).

And so what is the fate of America’s lunar ambitions? It looks like the Artemis launch has been rescheduled for this Saturday

NASA kicked off Monday its plan to send an unmanned space capsule into the moon’s orbit, marking the initial launch in an ambitious plan to establish a long term presence on the moon for scientific discovery and economic development.

The space capsule, called Artemis I, will travel for roughly 40 days — reaching as close as 60 miles from the moon, and then 40,000 miles above the moon when orbiting over its dark side — before landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego.


Even if this launch does succeed, which we hope it does, it is striking just how unambitious the mission actually is. We had Surveyor missions sending robotic spacecraft to the moon as early as the mid 196os. Of course, the difference with Artemis is that this is allegedly for a manned lunar mission, though Saturday’s launch will be unmanned. What is particularly bizarre and discouraging about this is that this mission won’t even attempt to test a lunar module touchdown. It is remarkably unambitious and even a bit strange to go all the way to the moon to test the new rocket and not even simulate a touchdown on the moon—perhaps a task for another test mission another several years and tens of billions of dollars down the road.

What happened to NASA? Inquiring minds want to know.