NASA Reviews Launch Schedule for 1st Integrated Orion-SLS Flight Test

NASA has concluded a comprehensive review of the potential launch schedule for an integrated flight test of Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

The space agency said Thursday it assessed the impact of manufacturing and supply challenges on Orion’s first European service module as well as tornado damage that affected the space agency’s New Orleans-based Michoud Assembly Facility.

SLS and Orion will be part of the uncrewed Exploration Mission-1, which aims to set a baseline for the integrated launch system’s first crewed mission and future exploration missions near and beyond the Moon.

“While the review of the possible manufacturing and production schedule risks indicate a launch date of June 2020, the agency is managing to December 2019,” said Robert Lightfoot, acting administrator of NASA.

“Since several of the key risks identified have not been actually realized, we are able to put in place mitigation strategies for those risks to protect the December 2019 date.”

NASA aims to accelerate the Ascent-Abort 2 test process on the Orion launch abort system designed to protect crew members during the spacecraft’s ascent.

EM-1 will work to showcase a capacity to safely operate the integrated SLS and Orion platforms.

The agency added it will study a deep space gateway concept and potential lunar missions with space station partners and members of the U.S. industry.

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