NASA's $17-billion moon rocket may be doomed before it ever gets to the launch pad | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


NASA's $17-billion moon rocket may be doomed before it ever gets to the launch pad

NASA has been toiling away on a monster rocket for the past eight years — but how much action the skyscraper-size Space Launch System will see once it’s completed is now anybody’s guess.

Designed to send humans and almost 60,000 pounds of cargo to the moon and perhaps beyond, the SLS will be bigger and more powerful than any rocket since the Saturn V behemoth that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon 50 years ago. NASA has said the rocket will send Americans back to the lunar surface as early as 2024, with an uncrewed test flight tentatively scheduled for 2020.

But the orange-and-white rocket has fallen three years behind schedule — and is way over budget. Almost $17 billion has been spent so far on the space vehicle, which was projected to cost $10.6 billion when its construction was approved in 2011. Experts say each SLS flight will cost at least $1 billion, or about 11 times more than SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, which made its debut last year.

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