The Space Development Agency may have the goal of speeding up acquisitions and development of space systems, but until they solve the protest-laden nature of the beast, they can only make so much progress.
This is such a no-brainer of a program for NASA, assuming they can get the money and approval for it from Congress. It would solve a massive need for NASA—a dwindling and soon-to-be-if-not-already-overloaded communications network at Mars—while also pushing the private industry to up its game and prove itself.
If the program comes to fruition, I would mark this down as close to a must-win for SpaceX.
I joined Brendan Byrne on his show Are We There Yet? for a few minutes to talk about everything going on in the small launch space these days. My chunk of the show follows an interview that Brendan did with Jay Skylus, founder of Aevum, who showed off their Ravn X mockup last week.
Have a listen, and if you aren’t subscribed to Brendan’s show, then use this opportunity to fix that.
The failure is a loss of redundancy and not a total system failure, so they could decide to fly as is, but that is extremely not NASA, especially on such a high-profile mission like Artemis 1. The info Loren got is that there are a few ways to go about fixing the issue, but they all mean a months-long delay—between 4 and 9 months estimated—before Orion would be ready to meet SLS for flight.
Because this program is more about setting precedent than actually generating useful science, technology, or infrastructure, in some ways I feel like this announcement alone is good enough, especially with 10% of the contracted price changing hands today.