NASA’s plans to send astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the 1970s have been delayed, according to reports.
Earlier this year NASA hinted at the possibility of flying astronauts aboard the space agency’s new heavy-lift rocket and crew vehicle as early as 2018.
However updates suggest it could be December 2019, or even later, before take-off actually happens.
Watch a clip featuring NASA’s sun mission:
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The rocket colloquially known as the Space Launch System would succeed Saturn 5 which took astronauts to the moon more than forty years ago.
NASA said it plans to use the vehicle to take astronauts not only to the moon, which is one of the goals of the Trump administration, but someday Mars, writes the New York Times.
The completed review now indicates a launch date of June 2020, but according to reports, NASA said it might be possible to move the launch date by ‘six months’.
William H. Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations said:
This earlier launch date is reasonable and challenges the teams to stay focused on tasks without creating undue pressure.
Furthermore, NASA is taking additional steps to reduce schedule risks for both known and unknown issues and protect for the earliest possible launch date.
At the request of the Trump administration, NASA said they had ‘examined the possibility’ of putting astronauts aboard the rocket’s first flight.
But in doing so, it would have further pushed back the launch date and added around $900 million to the programme’s price tag – leaving NASA and the Trump administration deciding to stick with the original plan.
A flight without any crew will allow also testing to be more meticulous.
According to reports, the delays have been caused largely in part by technological problems as well as ‘factors out of NASA’s control’.
One of which included a tornado hitting the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, where parts of the rocket are being built, in February this year.
Gerstenmaier said NASA is ‘still on track’ for the manned flight to take place in 2023.
Experts said the same rocket could also be used in the early 2020s to propel a robotic probe to Jupiter to study Europa – a moon with a vast ocean under its icy crust.
Scientists believe this makes it one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for other life forms.
Mr. Gerstenmaier said the agency would soon a provide a framework of NASA’s plans beyond 2023.
A report this earlier this month which came from NASA’s inspector general highlighted problems the programme is facing, which included ‘very tight budget reserves’.
It’s an exciting time for space exploration, earlier this month, NASA revealed a newly discovered object from another solar system has found its way to the Milky Way and it’s up to a quarter of a mile long.
The asteroid, which is like a giant cigar with a reddish hue, has been named ‘Oumuamua’ by its discoverers.
Our first interstellar asteroid has an aspect ration greater than any asteroid or comet observed in our solar system to date, as it’s about ten times as long as it is wide.
Watch the video here: