WASHINGTON — A day after announcing that NASA was studying the possibility of shifting an Orion mission from the Space Launch System rocket to commercial vehicles, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he and the agency still support development of the SLS.
Speaking at a Space Transportation Association luncheon here March 14, Bridenstine said the ongoing study to use commercial launch vehicles rather than the SLS for Exploration Mission (EM) 1 was motivated by a desire to maintain a schedule that called for flying the mission in mid 2020, and that it was a stopgap measure only.
“This is a fix to a problem,” he told an audience of aerospace executives, congressional staffers and representatives of other space agencies of that potential alternative approach to EM-1. “This is not the solution. This is not sustainable.”
Bridenstine told members of the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing March 13 that the agency was looking at that alternative approach, which would involve using one commercial launch vehicle to launch the Orion and another to launch an upper stage that, once docked to Orion, would propel it to the moon. In the day since that hearing, some have speculated that the proposal could be ...