For the past six years, NASA has been intensely focused on sending people to Mars — but the rocket and spacecraft that the agency is building for the job face delays and budget problems. That’s according to two new independent reviews done by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a federal agency that conducts audits on behalf of Congress. Released last week, the reports paint a grim picture for NASA’s Orion crew capsule and the Space Launch System (SLS) — the huge new expendable rocket that would launch the crew capsule to space. The GAO has little confidence that both the Orion and the SLS will meet their scheduled milestones, and the capsule could exceed its intended budget, the GAO hints.
THE REPORTS PAINT A GRIM PICTURE FOR NASA’S ORION CREW CAPSULE AND THE SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM
The Orion and the SLS are the primary features of NASA’s "Journey to Mars" initiative. The teardrop-shaped Orion crew capsule is designed to ride into space on top of the SLS, carrying a crew of four astronauts into deep space. NASA plans to use the Orion and SLS combo to send astronauts to an asteroid in orbit around the Moon in the 2020s, a program known as the Asteroid Redirect Mission. After that, Orion will eventually be used to send a crew on to the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s, though details about when and how that will happen have yet to be clearly defined. Read More >>
By Loren Grush