NASA study warns against putting crew on huge rocket's first flight

NASA study warns against putting crew on huge rocket's first flight

NASA study warns against putting crew on huge rocket's first flight

NASA has delayed the first launch of its heavy-payload rocket until 2019 and decided against an idea floated by the White House to put astronauts aboard the capsule that is set to fly around the moon, the USA space agency said on Friday.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had hoped to launch the Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket in November 2018. Gerstenmaier noted that, after the first uncrewed mission, NASA will need about 33 months to revamp a mobile launcher at the NASA Kennedy Space Center to handle the second SLS mission, which will have additional hardware and stand 40 feet taller on the launchpad.

Nasa's Space Launch System (SLS) 70 metric tonnes configuration is seen launching to space in this undated artist's rendering released August 2, 2014.

The first flight of NASA's expensive new deep-space rocket is going to be delayed again, and it won't have any astronauts aboard, the agency announced Friday.

After evaluating the cost and risk, the space agency decided against it. Orion would have to have been fitted with a slew of different life-support systems to sustain a crew for a few weeks, increase testing of an abort system, install software to allow the crew to interface with the spacecraft's instruments, and also required ESA to speed up the construction of Orion's service module (NASA outsources to its partners in Europe).

Rockets in the early years of space flight were unreliable in test phases and sometimes blew up on the pad or shortly after liftoff.

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To include astronauts in the first launch, the Orion capsule would require life support and a fully working launch abort system, which is created to help the crew capsule escape a failure. It is scheduled for 2021, but will nearly certainly be later because of all the delays with the first flight.

The announcement came during a teleconference with NASA's Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and head of Human Exploration Bill Gerstenmaier. Even then, that flight, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), will slip from November 2018 to sometime in 2019, with cascading effects for the next flight, EM-2.

"It's really consistent with our available resources, and while it still has technical risk, we have a good handle on that and how an uncrewed mission will actually help EM-2 be a safer mission when we put crew on there". More generally, he argued that NASA and its industry team have already completed "phenomenal" work both on SLS and Orion and are making good progress building a complex system.

The delays are largely due to technical issues encountered during the development of SLS and Orion, as well as tornado damage to the rocket's manufacturing plant in New Orleans. "We knew both of those had to be there, because we had certain components that just were not there". This article will be updated if we get any comments after press time. The SLS is similar in size to the Saturn V rockets used in the Apollo program but generate far more thrust. The Space Shuttle Columbia's first flight, in April 1981, was the first and only time NASA has sent a new craft into space with astronauts.

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