Washington – NASA has announced the possibility to push back the date for the first manned flight for its Orion Program from 2021 to 2023 after the experience of its test flight in August.

The mission, build to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before, is costing NASA $6.77 billion in investment, but the US space agency said in a statement that after the last trial flight in August, the possibility of meeting the schedule target is rather unrealistic.

The spaceship aims to send up to four astronauts to destinations beyond the Moon, as NASA is envisioning missions to asteroids and Mars in the coming decades. For now NASA’s released the news that Orion’s first manned flight won’t be happening before 2023.

The Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle was originally part of NASA’s Constellation Program, which is no longer an active NASA program. Credit: NASA

Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. Orion will launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System

“Our work to send humans out into the solar system is progressing […] Orion is a key piece of the flexible architecture that will enable humanity to set foot on the Red Planet, and we are committed to building the spacecraft and other elements necessary to make this a reality” said Administrator Charles Bolden in a press release by NASA.

Bolden also said the projections were based on President Barack Obama’s budget request for NASA, and he noted that the team is making “incredible progress” on building an exploration program that will carry humans farther into space than ever before, using the most powerful rockets ever built.

Orion successfully completed its first flight test last year, when the empty spaceship circled Earth twice and then splashed down in the ocean and another demonstration flight is scheduled for 2018.

Building in History

Orion is a milestone mission and NASA is making use of all its technology and lessons learned from earlier missions to build the new spacecraft. Orion plans to carry six astronauts compared with the three astronauts carried by Apollo mission. A heat shield will keep the astronauts safe and the crew module re-enters Earth’s atmosphere when it returns from deep space.

Orion will use more modern technology in many other areas, such as computers, electronics, life support and propulsion

The Test Flight

The Orion Spacecraft is loaded with almost 1,200 sensors that helped it to complete a two-orbit, 4.5-hour flight on December 5, 2014.  It tested many of the systems most critical to safety before it carries astronauts to space.

Orion will launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. More powerful than any other rocket ever built, SLS will be capable of sending humans to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.

Source: NASA