NASA auditors recommend that the agency postpone the launch of the Orion in its first two missions because of the “technical and financial problems” that prevent the shuttle from launching to the moon in October or November 2018, SpaceNews reported.
“The dispatch of Orion to space no later than November 2018 will be a very difficult technical task for NASA .We doubt that NASA engineers will be able to solve all the technical problems and check the operation of all software and hardware components of the program in order to meet the deadline before the expected date The first flight of Orion in the framework of the mission of EM-1 “, – quotes the report of the NASA inspectors.
The reusable spacecraft Orion is being developed today in the US as the main tool for returning astronauts to space after shutting down the Shuttle program in 2011. The main task that Orion should realize is a repeated US visit to the surface of the Moon, as well as a flight to Mars.
The second half of these plans is a hard rocket carrier SLS, which should lead Orion to the first space flight in October-November 2018, when the new NASA spacecraft, according to the plans of the space agency, will fly around the moon. So far, NASA has not decided whether there will be a crew on board the capsule at this time, but in February this year, the agency representatives said that such a possibility is not ruled out.
All these plans, probably NASA will have to be postponed – a report prepared by Paul Martin, chief inspector of NASA, says that Orion will not be ready for the flight by fall of 2018 for a variety of financial and technical reasons.
Some of them, according to SpaceNews, is not the fault of NASA – for example, in February this year, the building of the agency in Louisiana, where the SLS rocket should be assembled, was badly damaged by the hurricane. Their repair will take about two to three months, which shifts the launch time of SLS for a similar period.
An additional problem is the idea to send a crew aboard Orion to a flight around the moon during its first space trip, which requires extensive research and modifications to the design of the shuttle. In particular, to implement such a venture will require the installation of a new engine on Orion, which has not yet passed all the stages of testing and development.
In addition, the Office of the Chief Inspector recommended NASA to begin developing a detailed strategy for the flight to Mars, which is still in its infancy and very schematic state. Such plans, according to Martin and his subordinates, are necessary in order to correctly focus the resources and financial capabilities of the agency on this task and avoid delays or unjustified spending.