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    The NASA Orion space capsule is seen atop a Delta IV rocket ready for a test launch at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014

    NASA's Launch of First US Deep Space Mission 'Likely Unachievable' in 2018

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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) scheduled November 2018 launch of the first deep space mission faces delays due to technical glitches in three separate programs needed for the expedition, the General Accountability Office (GAO) said in an audit report on Thursday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — NASA is simultaneously developing a giant rocket, space ship and ground control system, all of which need to be completed and integrated before the mission — known as EM-1 — can fly, the report explained.

    "The EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays," the report stated. "All three programs face unique challenges in completing development, and each has little to no schedule reserve remaining between now and the EM-1 date, amid technical problems in three separate programs."

    The three programs consist of the Orion spaceship for astronauts, the Space Launch System rocket needed for the Orion to escape Earth’s gravity, and a ground control system to manage everything.

    Although the November 2018 launch was originally planned as an unmanned test — with the Orion circling the moon — President Donald Trump is urging NASA to let a crew of astronauts go along for the ride.

    The GAO report recommended that NASA confirm whether the current EM-1 launch date is still achievable when submitting its 2018 budget request or propose a new, realistic launch date.

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    Tags:
    deep space, mission, US Government Accountability Office (GAO), NASA, United States
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