Senior official: NASA will delay first flight of new SLS rocket until 2019

Senior official: NASA will delay first flight of new SLS rocket until 2019

By | April 29th, 2017
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The space agency has been studying this possibility for the last couple of

months, and its report on such missions should be publicly released within

a couple of weeks.


NASA has decided it must delay the maiden flight of its Space Launch System rocket, presently scheduled for November 2018, until at least early 2019. This decision was widely expected due to several problems with the rocket, Orion spacecraft, and ground launch systems. The delay was confirmed in a letter from a NASA official released Thursday by the US Government Accountability Office.

“We agree with the GAO that maintaining a November 2018 launch readiness date is not in the best interest of the program, and we are in the process of establishing a new target in 2019,” wrote William Gerstenmaier, chief of NASA’s human spaceflight program.

NASA’s position is complicated by several factors, most notably a request from the Trump administration to demonstrate some kind of crewed flight by the end of the new president’s first term in 2020.

After NASA releases this report, the White House and Congress will begin the process of setting the agency’s budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins on October 1 of this year. Out of these negotiations, a new plan for the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft will likely result.


Nisheeth Bhakuni

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