LAS CRUCES, N.M. — While NASA continues to wait to set a new official date for the first launch of its Space Launch System, an agency official said Oct. 10 that the launch could slip as late as the middle of 2021.
NASA’s formal estimate of the first launch of SLS, a mission called Artemis 1, remains late 2020. That date, though, assumes that everything will go exactly as planned for the remainder of the vehicle’s development and testing.
“The schedule that we’re managing to is very, very aggressive,” said Ken Bowersox, acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, during a presentation at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) here.
That schedule calls for finishing the core stage of the vehicle at the end of this year and shipping it to the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for a static-fire test known as the Green Run. “In the best case, it’s going to be five or six months” of testing there, he said.
He added, though, that there are “risks” to that timeline due to both technical issues, such as the amount of time needed to refurbish the stage after the test, as well ...