By Kenneth Chang
Struggling to get its new giant rocket ready in time for a scheduled launch next year, NASA might just leave it on the ground and turn to commercial alternatives.
“NASA has a history of not meeting launch dates,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, at a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday, “and I’m trying to change that.”
NASA plans to send its Orion capsule, designed to carry astronauts on deep space missions, on a crewless test trip around the moon next year.
But the schedule for completing the rocket that is to carry Orion — known as the Space Launch System — has slipped repeatedly despite NASA’s spending more than $10 billion on the program so far. Last year, in announcing the latest delay, NASA said that the mission was penciled in for the end of 2019 but even then conceded that June 2020 was a more realistic target date.
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