News / Science & Technology

NASA: New Heavy-Lift Rocket Likely for 2018 Debut

NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration is seen launching to space in this undated artist's rendering.
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration is seen launching to space in this undated artist's rendering.
Reuters

NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, designed to fly astronauts to the Moon, asteroids and eventually Mars, likely will not have its debut test flight until November 2018, nearly a year later than previous estimates, agency officials said on Wednesday.

NASA is 70 percent confident of making a November 2018 launch date, given the technical, financial and management hurdles the Space Launch System [SLS] faces on the road to development, NASA associate administrators Robert Lightfoot and Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters on a conference call.

NASA estimates it could spend almost $12 billion developing the first of three variations of the rocket and associated ground systems through the debut flight, and potentially billions more to build and fly heavier-lift next-generation boosters, a July 2014 General Accountability Office report on the program said.

While the rocket might be ready for a test flight in December 2017, as previously  planned, the new assessment showed the odds of that were "significantly less" than the 70 percent confidence level NASA requires of new programs, Gerstenmaier said.

"We want to commit to this [November 2018] date and show that we can meet it," added Lightfoot. The schedule assumes flat annual budgets of about $1.3 billion for the SLS rocket and another $1.5 billion for Orion crew capsule and associated ground launch systems at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The GAO report found that NASA's SLS rocket program was about $400 million short of meeting its December 2017 target.

The rocket is a modified version of the shuttle-derived, heavy-lift booster developed under NASA's previous exploration initiative known as Constellation.

The U.S. space agency spent about $9 billion on Constellation, which included the Orion capsule, from 2005 to 2010, before President Obama axed the program. Its goal was to return astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2020.

Instead, the White House and Congress approved a flexible path toward Mars, including a visit to an asteroid that will be robotically relocated into a high lunar orbit.

NASA did not say if the 11-month slip in the new rocket's debut flight, which will be an unmanned test run around the moon, would impact the second mission, slated for 2021, with a two-member crew.

Initially, the SLS rocket, which uses leftover space shuttle main engines and shuttle-derived solid rocket boosters, will be able to put about 77 tons (70 metric tons) into an orbit about 100 miles (160 km) above Earth. Later versions are expected to carry nearly twice that load. Ultimately, the rocket is expected to be used to launch astronauts and equipment to Mars.

"Our nation has embarked on a very ambitious space exploration program and we owe it to the American taxpayers to get this right," Lightfoot said.

 

 

 

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid