NASA's new rocket won't be ready for moon shot next year

14 March, 2019, 06:54 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • NASA-Administrator-Jim-Bridenstine-afp

Nasa administrator - Jim Bridenstine - was a guest on a United States science and technology radio show Science Friday, when he made the comment.

He replied: 'Absolutely. These are great days.' Bridenstine added: 'The first person on Mars is likely to be a woman.

Bridenstine did not specify if the space agency had a particular woman in mind.

His announcement follows recent news of an all-female spacewalk scheduled for the end of March, which correlates with National Women's Month in America.

"'If I tell you and others we're going to launch in 2020, around the moon, which is what EM-1 is, I think we should launch around the moon in June of 2020", Bridenstine said.

'So NASA is committed to making sure that we have a broad and diverse set of talent'.

Bridenstine said the SLS program would continue, with a "full-up green run test" to be conducted at NASA's Stennis Space Center in MS in preparation for the crewed EM-2 launch, which is now scheduled for 2023. Jackie Kagey will be the lead spacewalk flight controller.

If this happens and a woman is the first one to take a step onto Mars, that is going to be an awesome moment to see. The spaceship became the first commercial spacecraft to dock at the International Space Station.

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Women now comprise 34% of active NASA astronauts, the agency confirmed.

The White House's proposed 2020 fiscal year budget seeks to shelve the development of an upgraded version of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS).

A new $21 billion 2020 budget marks almost a six per cent increase from last year's.

But NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told a Senate hearing that the "SLS is struggling to meet its schedule" and won't be ready in time for the EM-1 mission.

Bridenstine earlier said that Nasa's short-term objective is to get astronauts back on the moon and establish a permanent base there.

'We will use what we learn as we move forward to the Moon to take the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars'. The spending plan also opens the door for using commercial rockets to deliver the first elements of the global Gateway space platform to lunar orbit.

Construction on Gateway - an orbiting lunar outpost - is expected to begin construction as soon as 2022. But the agency is just now "understanding how hard this project is and that it is going to take some additional time", he said, adding that second launch of Orion with a crew should still belong to SLS.

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