We all wish we could launch people into space from time to time, but unfortunately, President Trump will have to wait his turn.
At a recent press conference, NASA confirmed that it would not send people to space again until 2021, despite requests from the White House to make it happen in 2019 – during Trump’s first term.
The space agency is currently in the throes of developing its new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which will one day be used to send astronauts to Mars. In 2019, officials are planning to launch the rocket with an Orion spacecraft on top – known as Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) – on a three-week trip around the Moon and back. A manned flight is set to take place in 2012, known as Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2).
While NASA looked into the Trump administration’s request to consider putting a crew on the first flight, officials ultimately said no.
NASA’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, said in a press conference that it would cost between $600 million and $900 million to put a two-person crew on EM-1. This is because they would need to upgrade the spacecraft with life support systems, a launch abort system, etc.
“It really reaffirmed the baseline plan we had in place was the best way for us to go,” he said. “Leave EM-1 uncrewed.”
If only we could say the same for the United States.