12 years after the project’s initial announcement, NASA’s mega rocket SLS (Space Launch System) will be transported to its launch pad from Kennedy Space Center Thursday, March 17. Moving the rocket and its Orion space module should take no less than 11 hours, which is ultimately very little compared to the years of delays and cascading budget overruns that have marked the project. These “expenses” overruns have essentially benefited the firms Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Aerojet. The cost of the first of the 4 Artemis missions (return to the Moon) is estimated at 4.1 billion dollars, knowing that the manufacture of a single SLS would already cost 2.2 billion dollars.
Once the SLS is installed on its launch pad, NASA will proceed with a long battery of tests
The impossibility of reusing the lower stage of an SLS rocket is what largely explains these pharaonic amounts. Each Artemis mission will indeed require its own rocket. This economic model should be compared with that of the Starship of SpaceXa large launcher designed to be reusable, which could reduce costs between each launch to “only” 10 million dollars according to Elon Musk.