NASA Orion Spacecraft’s First Deep Space Missions Could Be Delayed

Posted: Apr 17 2017, 1:53pm CDT | by , Updated: Apr 17 2017, 1:58pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA Orion Spacecraft’s First Deep Space Missions Could be Delayed
Credit: NASA

Both technical and budget challenges are cited as major reasons behind the delay

NASA’s first two missions of Orion spacecraft are facing troubles and could be delayed.

Orion spacecraft is designed for deep space mission including Mars. Once functional, it would be the most advanced spacecraft ever designed and carry astronauts farther into space than ever before.

The first launch of the Orion spacecraft aboard Space Launch System or SLS is currently scheduled for early November 2018. The first mission named Exploration Mission 1 or M-1 will be an unmanned mission. During this mission, Orion will complete an orbit around the moon.

The second mission will carry astronauts and is expected to launch as early as August 2021. However, NASA may reschedule the launch of these missions due to both technical and budget issues.

“NASA's initial exploration missions on its Journey to Mars—EM-1 and EM-2—face multiple cost and technical.” NASA’s latest audit report reads.

Sending astronauts beyond earth's orbit and eventually to Mars has been a long term goal of NASA. For years, agency has sent orbiters, landers and rovers to increase knowledge about the Red Planet and to pave the way for future human explorers.

The human space exploration could help address fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and the history of our solar system. But these ventures will bring a number of challenges. Besides technical and health-related issues in deep space missions, the biggest problem will be the cost. NASA estimates that human journey to Mars may exceed $210 billion by 2033.

Report says that NASA’s plans for EM-1 and EM-2 missions are less clear, so the space agency could face significant challenges to meeting the planned launch dates.

To achieve the goal, NASA must carry out “significant development work on key systems such as a deep space habitat, in-space transportation, and Mars landing and ascent vehicles" in coming years. Space agency should devise strategies to help reduce the costs of its human exploration efforts.

After Orion is tested on first two missions, th spacecraft will carry astronauts to an asteroid in 2020. The ultimate goal is to take the first human explorers to Mars in 2030s.

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