So, NASA announced yesterday a plan for a new rocket, tentatively called SLS; this is the announcement. What has this announcement to offer? a nice video (with 3D realistic models of the rocket) and a fun facts sheet. Well, I must say, this sheet is the most interesting part of the announcement because we have at least some figures to have a glimpse at the technical capabilities of the launcher. Otherwise, the picture of the rocket has not the slightest interest.
There is some buzz about the announcement, but not much: most people seem to think the same: well, “one more design, but will it be built one day? That’s far from being sure”.
This new concept looks really like a pure PR show: we see so many pictures of new rockets, new designs, but they all are basically based on the same principles. Nothing really new, nothing really inspiring, except for Space-X: their rockets are not new in design (although the idea to cover the stages with thermal shields to make them reusable is pretty clever, I am looking forward to seeing if they manage to find a balanced mass budget), but the way to build them, the optimization of the assembly processes, the fast pace of development are motivating.
And instead of seeing a model of the rocket, I would like to have useful technical figures: mass budgets, fuel cycles, comparison with previous rockets, flight scenarios. Well, all figures that explain why this design was chosen.
PS: I take here the example from NASA, but it is the same for most of “new concepts” presented by agencies or space companies. They are most of the time PR operations with minimal technical background.