Let's Not Put Humans on the Giant SLS Rocket's First Flight, NASA Warns
As awesome as it sounds, strapping people to an untested pile of explosive fuel and fire might not be a great idea.
Some plans just aren't worth the money—or the risk. After two months of deliberation, NASA says it's not worth the trouble to try and massage the giant SLS rocket to accommodate astronauts on its first launch circa 2019, according to Bloomberg.
The problem, according to the report, is just a matter of money. Adding a human crew to the inaugural test flight of the rocket would cost far more money than is realistically worth spending, likely costing somewhere in the nine-figure range. On top of that, attempting to do so would likely screw up the schedules for both the SLS rocket and the Orion crew capsule that will be used to ferry astronauts into space.
The Trump administration began pushing NASA to explore manning the first flight of the Space Launch System, as the SLS is formally and uninterestingly known, back in February, when the agency's head of human exploration William Gerstenmaier said his bosses—along with the White House—had asked him to look into the matter. At the time, Gerstenmaier said strapping people atop the SLS for its first blast into space would be "an increased risk," in what we assume was an attempt to secure a nomination for Understatement of the Year 2017.
That said, the decision hasn't been formally announced just yet—and it's still possible for the Trump administration to override NASA's study on this and push the space agency to go ahead with the plan, an anonymous source told Bloomberg. If the president was in any was serious about his assertion to try and reach Mars by 2024...we wouldn't be surprised to see the White House push this project a little more firmly before they make a final decision.
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