Additional delays with a Boeing rocket has NASA considering commercial help to mitigate further schedule slips in launching the agency’s future deep-space exploration craft.
The Space Launch System (SLS) “is struggling to meet its schedule,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a Senate hearing Wednesday.
The rocket won’t be ready for a launch in June 2020, when NASA had planned the Exploration Mission-1 flight of its Orion spacecraft around the moon.
He stressed that the agency remains committed to Boeing’s SLS, the largest rocket in U.S. history and a “critical capability” for future deep-space missions.
Without the SLS, NASA would be forced to purchase two heavy-lift vehicle launches and then integrate the Orion with an upper stage in orbit, adding to the cost.