MAY 17, 2017 07:15 AM PDT

First SLS Rocket Launch Will Be Unmanned, NASA Says

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lifting rocket is being faced with some unkind delays that are frustrating not only the space agency, but also parts of the U.S. government that are pushing NASA to meet specific deadlines on a limited budget.

NASA recently swallowed their pride and announced that the SLS rocket’s maiden voyage would be delayed from the original 2018 date estimate until 2019 due to complications in manufacturing a safe rocket, but now some more bad news has been put on the table.

NASA has not only delayed its SLS test launch, but also the first crewed mission.

Image Credit: NASA/MSFC

The announcement, made on May 12th, revealed that NASA will not be launching a crewed SLS rocket on its maiden voyage as had been recently planned, coined Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1). Instead, the first crewed mission is expected as early as 2021, two years after the estimated initial test launch.

The decision comes after a feasibility study that looked into potential problems that could arise. What they found was crewing a rocket that wasn’t meant to be crewed on its maiden voyage in the first place would mean having to send additional equipment that would add more to the cost of launching the rocket.

Instead, SLS will launch with an unscrewed Orion capsule that will circle the Moon for three weeks in order to reduce costs and also to ensure its working safety.

Related: NASA's SLS rocket passes critical design review

With EM-1 being pushed back to 2021, the year during which EM-2 was planned to launch, it means EM-2 will also be pushed back at least 33 months from the EM-1 launch. An estimate for EM-2 has not yet been realized.

The SLS maiden voyage was never really intended to be a crewed mission from the start, as it’s more of a proof of concept for NASA to ensure things are in proper working order. It’s from these results that the space agency can fine-tune their SLS rocket, making it as safe as humanly possible for astronauts.

NASA’s initial test-fire of the SLS rocket booster revealed a number of critical problems that need to be addressed before the rocket is ready to fly. Among those is a core design issue that leads to cracking and other potentially unsafe hazards.

Once fixed, the SLS rocket should be deemed ‘safe to fly,’ but before putting valuable human life on an experimental rocket, it’s always a good idea to do a test flight first to make absolutely sure that no unwanted accidents lead to the loss of life.

While it’s certainly upsetting to see all the problems NASA is going through, third-party commercial space companies like SpaceX are working on their own heavy-lifting rockets. SpaceX is already said to have an anonymous customer paying to go to the Moon and back with their Falcon Heavy rocket next year. Their identities won’t be revealed until afterwards.

Source: Space.com

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 05, 2018
These 9 Astronauts Will Participate in NASA's First Commercial Crewed Missions
NASA astronauts haven’t launched from American soil since the Space Shuttle program’s retirement in 2011. Instead, they’ve been riding sh...
SEP 10, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 10, 2018
The James Webb Space Telescope May Help Astronomers Search for Alien Life
Despite an onslaught of delays that have thus far prevented NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope from being launched into space, the space observatory p...
SEP 26, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 26, 2018
NASA Unveils Official Plans to Return to the Moon
NASA hasn’t sent any of its astronauts to the lunar surface for scientific exploration since the Apollo 17 mission launched from Earth’s surfac...
OCT 07, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 07, 2018
SpaceX to Launch Satellite, Then Attempt First Falcon 9 Landing on California Soil
Sunday, October 7th is expected to be a special day for SpaceX. The commercial space company is poised to launch a Falcon 9 rocket launch from California&r...
OCT 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 09, 2018
Putting the Mars 2020 Rover Together - Behind the Scenes
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know by now that NASA’s planning to send another rover to the Martian surface to investigate...
NOV 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 04, 2018
Roscosmos Discerns Cause of Faulty Soyuz Launch, Expects to Resume Launches
Just last month, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft poised to send an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station failed mid-flig...
Loading Comments...