NASA may put astronauts on deep space test flight

NASA may put astronauts on deep space test flight

NASA may put astronauts on deep space test flight

NASA is working on a risk analysis report over sending astronauts on the maiden flight of the most powerful rocket - the Space Launch System or SLS in the integrated flight with the Orion spacecraft. However, if it is found to be possible to take a crew on the first mission, it may switch from the original EM-1 mission plan to its EM-2 plan, which would have the new spacecraft would circle the Earth twice, test firing its engines, and then return.

"That said, I also want to hear about the opportunities it could present to accelerate the effort of the first crewed flight and what it would take to accomplish that first step of pushing humans farther into space", Lightfoot added.

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William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA's human explorations and operation mission directorate in Washington, said they would be looking at a "big, crisp list of all the things we would physically have to change" on the vehicle in order to accommodate astronauts. The SLS and Orion missions will help put the agency in a position to unlock the mysteries of space.

Gerstenmaier said a gap of three years between an unmanned flight test and a crewed mission is normal as it requires platform preparations at the Kennedy Space Center. Trump and his team have yet to nominate anyone to run the agency, and NASA is now guided by acting administrator Robert Lightfoot, a civil servant. At least a lunar flyby at the earliest is expected by the administration.

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Yesterday, an independent safety panel cautioned that NASA needs a compelling reason to put astronauts on the initial flight, given the risk. NASA managers determined that the latter option is more pragmatic than the former. That panel was formed 50 years ago last month after the Apollo 1 fire that killed three astronauts in a countdown test. "If the benefits warrant assumption of additional risk, we expect NASA to clearly and openly articulate their decision process and rationale".

Containing memorabilia and toys but no people, the capsule was launched into an extremely long orbit of Earth in 2014 by a Delta IV rocket, and splashed down into the Pacific.

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It will assume launching two crew members in mid-2019, and consider adjustments to the current EM-1 mission profile. "But in the assessment, we strongly advise that NASA carefully and cautiously weigh the value proposition for flying crew on EM-1".

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