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A large NASA SLS rocket will probably not fly before the end of 2021



The NASA administrator, James Bridenstine, testifies before the Trade, Science and Transport Committee of the Senate on July 17, 2019.
Increase / The NASA administrator, James Bridenstine, testifies before the Trade, Science and Transport Committee of the Senate on July 17, 2019.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Already last month, both NASA planning documents and Boeing officials said that the space agency is still working on launching the Artemis-1 mission in 2020. This is the first launch of a large, expensive and delayed Space Launch System rocket that hopes NASA will serve as the backbone of her efforts to explore the Moon and ultimately Mars with humans.

This unrestricted test flight, which will strengthen the Orion capsule on the Moon, is the first of the three main missions in the NASA Artemis NASA campaign to land people on the Moon by 2024. However, for the first time NASA's administrator Jim Bridenstine took over the launch date in 2020 on Wednesday.

Twice during testimony to the US Senate Committee on Trade, Science and Transport, Bridenstine identified 2021 as the anticipated launch date for Artemis-1. "I think 2021 is definitely achievable for the Artemis-1 missile," said Bridenstine in response to Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican Mississippi who chairs the commission.

However, Bridenstine said he would not set a new mission date yet. Last week, he again re-assigned the two top NASA space flight officials Bill Gerstenmaier and Bill Hill, partly because of the cost overruns and delays in the initial phase of the SLS missile. Bridenstine is currently looking for substitutes, both inside and outside NASA, to fulfill these key roles and assess the readiness of the SLS missile.

"NASA was not good at setting a realistic budget and schedules, and we need to improve ourselves," Bridenstine said. "So, before we announce a new date, I want to be sure that we have a team of leaders."

In her written testimony for the hearing, Bridenstine added one important detail regarding this schedule. "The office of the Chief Financial Officer of NASA has carried out a risk assessment of the start schedule of Artemis 1, including an integrated schedule and related risk factors ahead of Artemis 1," he wrote. "NASA management is currently evaluating these results."

According to a NASA source familiar with this assessment, the agency said that according to current plans, including the "green" test of the basic stage test at Stennis Space Center in 2020, the Artemis-1 Mission would not be ready to run before at least the end 2021 "What is more, NASA will probably need more money – more than more than $ 2 billion that it receives annually for developing SLS – to realistically enter the release date at the end of 2021.

Previously, Bridenstine said that thanks to modifications, the Falcon Heavy rocket could transfer astronauts to the moon on the moon, if the SLS rocket is not ready. However, because of pressure from key figures in Congress, especially Sen. Alabama Richard Shelby & # 39; ego, Bridenstine said that this would not happen. "We can make decisions outside of the table – he said during a teleconference with journalists this week. – We will ride with the SLS rocket and the Orion crew capsule. It's necessary.


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