…Like it needs a hole in the head.
I was going to write a blog post on this earlier, but Jeff Greason beat me to the punch in comments over on SpacePolitics.com (emphasis mine):
Both the Phase I and Phase 2 versions can support 7.5m fairings; I’ve discussed the fairing size argument elsewhere and won’t repeat it other than to say that seems sufficient to me for a long time to come. To some that seems larger than needed, others envision a piece or two of hardware (such as the Mars manned entry vehicle) which we might need in the far future and which, assuming NO new technologies are applied between now and then, might require a larger fairing. Personally, I would rather start exploring soon and assess our needs again when we are a little closer to the point of need than contort our launch infrastructure today around this hypothesized future need.
Of course once we are using kerosene boosters and have kerosene engines, developing a larger booster, once there is need, presents no special technical difficulty. This was called “Phase III” in the EELV briefing to the committee in public hearings. Such a booster will cost more money (as all ultra-large boosters do), and there is limited forseeable market for it (as for all ultra-large boosters), but if it turns out we need it in the future, and are willing to spend money on it in the future, we can do so. There is no need to spend today’s scarce dollars on an ultra-large booster for which we have no near-term need, just in case we will need it someday. Those who have claimed this is an all-or-nothing decision are ignoring alternatives.
More thoughts later.
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