NASA has announced that the earliest that its new heavy-lift rocket can lift off is probably December 2019. NASA also announced that this means that the maiden flight would be made in the middle of 2020. This information was announced on Wednesday. The rocket has been referred to as Space Launch System. For starters, it’s expected to take after the Saturn 5 that was used by NASA to ferry astronauts to the moon 40 years ago. During the announcement, NASA said that that the new rocket will not only be used for moon missions alone but also for Mars missions. One of the main goals of the Trump administration is to return to the moon.
At the beginning of 2017, NASA told the world that it would not be able to meet the November 2018 deadline. This was the first mission which was not supposed to carry any astronaut. The space agency said on Wednesday that the most reasonable date would be June 2020. At the same time, they announced that there was a possibility of the date being moved up by six months. NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations William H. Gerstenmaier said that the date set was reasonable. He further said that the date could challenge the team thus ensuring that they remained focused. He said that the set date couldn’t create undue pressure in any circumstance. He was speaking on Thursday at the House space subcommittee hearing. He told the committee that the decision had been made to ensure that there were no risks meaning that the earliest possible launch would be successful.
President Trump had requested NASA to examine whether astronauts would be put aboard the rocket during the first launch. However, NASA responded by saying that the request would have pushed the launch date back and increase the budget by approximately $900 million. This was double the initial price that had been suggested by NASA. Following the advice, the Trump administration decided to stick with the first plan. NASA also told the administration that a crewless flight would allow them to conduct a thorough testing. Mr. Gerstenmaier told the Senate subcommittee that the delay would result in an additional cost of 15 percent of the initial cost. He told the subcommittee members that the delays had been caused by technological hiccups. At the same time, they had been caused by factors that NASA could not control.