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Bill Gerstenmaier: NASA Plans to Move Exploration Mission-1 Launch to 2019

An official with NASA has said the agency plans to push back the initial launch of the Space Launch System from November 2018 to a new target date in 2019 due to development issues with SLS and the Orion spacecraft, Space News reported Thursday.

Jeff Foust writes Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, said in an April 12 letter to the Government Accountability Office that the space agency would propose a new launch readiness schedule for Exploration Mission-1 by Sept. 30.

Gerstenmaier added that NASA has begun to evaluate the EM-1 launch date in consideration of various activities such as the development of the Trump administration’s budget request for fiscal 2018 and the tornado in February that caused damage to the Michoud assembly facility in Louisiana, the report added.

GAO said in a report published Thursday that NASA should propose a feasible launch schedule for EM-1 amid technical challenges with the Orion crew vehicle, SLS and Exploration Ground Systems.

The congressional watchdog cited several challenges associated with the three programs that “may impact their remaining schedule reserve.”

Those challenges include delays in Orion’s European Service Module, postponement of welding work on the SLS program’s core stage and plans to subject the EGS program to hardware installation and testing, according to the GAO report.

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