Now, I’m just as much a fan of going to space as anyone else. In fact, I’m probably more of an enthusiast about space travel than many. But the SLS program is an incredibly inefficient use of funding.
For FY18, the SLS project was granted $2.15 billion in funding. If we assume that the project’s annual budget stays exactly the same until 2030, when the first of the largest version of the vehicle is expected to fly, the project will eat up $25.8 billion, in addition to the $11.9 billion the project has already consumed; in reality, the project’s budget is likely to increase over the years, bringing that number even higher, with one particularly pessimistic 2011 estimate putting the final price tag at a gluttonous $62.5 billion.
Compare that to SpaceX’s 2016 prediction that their entire Mars transport system — which prominently features an even more powerful heavy lift vehicle with the working name BFR — will cost a mere $10 billion to develop, and the entire SLS program should start to seem more than a bit wasteful.
Joshau R. Brodbeck, Sandy