NASA, heeding Trump, may add astronauts to a test flight moon mission (STA BREAKING NEWS and ARCHIVES)
President Trump has indicated that he wants to make a splash in space. During his transition, he spoke with historian Douglas Brinkley about John F. Kennedy's famous 1961 vow to go to the moon before the decade was out. Now Trump and his aides may do something very similar: demand that NASA send astronauts to orbit the moon before the end of Trump's first term — a move that one Trump adviser said would be a clear signal to the Chinese that the U.S. intends to retain dominance in space.
NASA already has a plan to launch its new, jumbo Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with an Orion capsule on top in late 2018, a mission known as EM-1. No one would be aboard. The capsule would orbit the moon and return to Earth, splashing down in the ocean.
This is intended as the first test flight of SLS and part of the integration of the new rocket and new capsule. Significantly, the SLS and Orion are both still under construction.
According to current plans, a crewed mission, EM-2, would not be launched until several years later under the NASA timeline — certainly not during Trump's current term. That crewed mission would also orbit the moon.
But on Wednesday, NASA's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, sent a letter to employees saying he'd instructed the top NASA official for human spaceflight, associate administrator William Gerstenmaier, to explore the feasibility of adding astronauts to the EM-1 flight.
- NASA, heeding Trump, may add astronauts to a test flight moon mission - Theresa, 2017-02-16, 04:43 (STA BREAKING NEWS and ARCHIVES)