NASA officials have again delayed the announcement of the revised launch date for Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1). The agency has cited interruptions caused by hurricane shutdowns and unexpected delays with the development of the Orion Service Module for pushing the launch announcement.
EM-1 has already suffered a number of delays. In may of this year, NASA officials pushed the mission’s launch date from late 2018 to late 2019 following the decision to not include a crew aboard. Although not initially planned to be a crewed mission, NASA officials began examining the feasibility of crewing EM-1 in February. The feasibility study conducted found that although technically possible, the agency would prefer to gather additional test data before sending a crew farther into space than ever before.
In September, NASA revealed that they would announce the revised EM-1 launch date in October. However, following an update by the director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Todd May at the American Astronautical Society’s Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium on October 25, the announcement was delayed. “Within a few weeks, I think [Robert Lightfoot, NASA Acting Administrator ] intends to codify whatever that date is going to be,”
Although NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have suffered setbacks in the production of SLS components and the Orion Service Module, Lockheed Martin are on schedule with the production of the Orion spacecraft itself. “We’re proud to have Orion powered-on and completing testing in preparation for its Exploration Mission-1 flight and eventually its journey to Mars.” said vice president and general manager of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin, Lisa Callahan.
Lockheed are heavily invested in EM-1 with the aerospace contractor hoping to use the mission as a springboard for their Mars Base Camp initiative.
NASA officials have stated that they are confident that EM-1 will still be able to launch by 2019. May explained that “2019 is where we think we can that done,” although he continued to caution that the mission may run into additional delays with the development and testing of Orion and SLS.
Image Credit: NASA