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Exploration Mission-1, NASA’s planned first flight of its heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion deep-space crew capsule, won’t make its target launch date of November 2018, the agency said April 27.
Concurring with a Government Accountability Office (GAO) finding that the original target date will be hard to achieve, given delays in both spacecraft and the ground systems needed to launch them, human-spaceflight chief William Gerstenmaier said “maintaining a November 2018 launch readiness date is not in the best interest of the program, and we are in the process of establishing a new target in 2019.”
That target will be set by September, according to Gerstenmaier, who has developed options for the administration of President Donald Trump to include a crew on EM-1. Modifications to the Orion capsule necessary to make that happen would push the mission—originally planned as a three-week unmanned shakedown cruise in lunar orbit—into 2019 in any event, Gerstenmaier has said.