NASA will pay a staggering $146 million for each SLS rocket engine


It is true that the shuttle main engine, or RS-25, is the Ferrari of rocket engines. NASA designed these brilliant engines in the 1970s for the space shuttle program, during which they each flew multiple launches. A total of 46 engines were built for the shuttle at an estimated cost of $40 million per engine. But now these formerly reusable engines will be flown a single time on the SLS rocket and then dropped into the ocean.

There are four engines on a Space Launch System rocket. At this price, the engines for an SLS rocket alone will cost more than $580 million. This does not include the costs of fabricating the rocket's large core stage, towering solid-rocket boosters, an upper stage, or the costs of test, transportation, storage, and integration. With engine prices like these, it seems reasonable to assume that the cost of a single SLS launch will remain $2 billion in perpetuity.

I knew the SLS had some serious issues, but this is super troubling. And ten years out the Space Shuttle program continues to be an anchor around NASA's neck. If I was miraculously given authority over this boondoggle I would immediately cancel it and simply blame it on the post COVID-19 economy.