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NASA Considering Astronauts in Its Large Rocket's Maiden Flight

Feb 17, 2017 05:13 AM EST
Space Launch System Will Be Most Powerful Rocket In History
NASA will study the possibility of sending astronauts along with the maiden flight of the most powerful rocket to be built, the Space Launch System (SLS).
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images))

NASA is building the most powerful rocket ever made. Now that parts of the rocket are almost near completion, the space agency is reportedly considering sending a team of astronauts in the rocket's maiden flight.

The acting NASA administrator ordered the agency to study the possibility of a manned SLS flight. Acting administrator Robers Lightfoot asked associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to conduct the assessment.

"I know the challenges associated with such a proposition, like reviewing the technical feasibility, additional resources needed, and clearly the extra work would require a different launch date," Lightfoot said in a memo.

This means that the first SLS flight, known as the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), might be a manned flight as opposed to the original unmanned launch plan. The mission will also be the first integrated flight between the Space Launch System and NASA's Orion spacecraft.

READ: Who Won NASA's Space Poop Challenge? Find Out Here!

The Orion spacecraft is being developed to ferry astronauts beyond the low-Earth orbit. Astronauts bound to the moon, Mars and even beyond might be able to reach their destinations aboard the Orion capsule in the future. The Orion is an integral part in the success of NASA's expanding space exploration programs.

"With the Orion Service Module, we are part of a historic space mission," said Francois Auque, Head of Space Systems in an interview with Space Daily. "We will make sure this mission is a success, working hand in hand with our customers ESA and NASA and our industrial partner Lockheed Martin Space Systems."

The agency is looking into the opportunities that could hasten the attempt for a crewed flight of the SLS, according to a report. The study will also help identify the necessary steps to take in order to advance NASA's dream of pushing humans farther into space where no man has ever been before.

NASA is collaborating with private companies in order to achieve the goal of exploring the rest of the Solar System. The agency believes that in doing so, the human race will be able to gain more knowledge about the universe.

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