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Nov 04 2014

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NASA beginning to look to expand SLS’ manifest

SLS looks to launch on a mission once a year. This is a good (and obvious) move by NASA. With only two missions planned to date (its initial test flight and then the Asteroid Return Mission (ARM)), the SLS is definitely on shaky ground budget-wise.

Highlights from the article:

  • They’re looking at a manifest that includes at least one launch a year.
  • The initial test flight (EM-1) has slid from late 2017 to 30 September 2018. The Orion module is the culprit behind the schedule slip. However, EM-2 (the ARM mission) may move from 15 Aug 2021 so some date to the left, maybe even into 2020.
  • Instead of EM-1 being a launch around the moon and back (similar to China’s Cheng’e 5 T-1 mission last week), it will loiter out at L2, 70,000 km past the Moon, as a dry run for EM-2.
  • A new mission being considered is an unmanned mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa.
    Europa mission
  • A second crewed mission, EM-3, has a launch date of 15 Aug 2023, but the mission outline is still being debated.
  • They’re looking at a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission around 2024. For my take on a mission outline for a MSR mission, click here.
  • EM-4, the third crewed mission, is scheduled for 2025 but has no outline as of yet.

Obviously, a lot more work needs to be done to flesh out details, and as the article states several times, funding remains a big issue. Still, it’s good to see NASA being proactive here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2014/11/04/nasa-beginning-to-look-to-expand-sls-manifest/

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