New Rocket Launch Provider for Europa Clipper Mission: SLS Is Out, SpaceX Is In

12th Aug 2021

The rocket launch provider for NASA’s Europa Clipper has been finally changed. Again, all pros and cons are weighed, and as a result, the Space Launch System was scrapped. Instead, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy will be used.

Europa Clipper Rocket Launch Will Be Provided by SpaceX

Today, no expert will deny the incredible importance of Europa Clipper to NASA in particular, and the whole industry in general. No wonder that the agency often has to make harsh decisions to keep this project going. Not to say their recent decision was unexpected, but Congress objected to it passionately. It can be explained by the fact that the parts of the SLS rocket launch are constructed in Congressional districts. So, it seemed reasonable to support SLS use and prevent NASA from changing to another provider.

SLS Rocket Launch Drawbacks

However, several factors should have influenced Congress’s decision. To start with, the SLS has to be used in the Artemis moon program. However, it gets constantly postponed, so there is no way to record SLS successes and give it any leverage. Besides, its price is astronomical because it’s not reusable. In total, its usage could increase the expenses by $2 billion. Finally, the Clipper itself had to be redesigned if launched by SLS because the high torsional load implied vibration would be unbearable for it to survive.

And only when the new budget was passed by Congress earlier this year, NASA had finally got an opportunity to pick the rocket launch provider. Apparently, Congress has changed its mind after all. The public has hugely supported this decision. Many underline that SLS should have been ditched a long time ago because the downsides were quite obvious. Hopefully, SpaceX won’t let the agency down since this rocket launch provider is an indisputable industry leader as of now.

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