NASA going commercial could signal a paradigm shift for deep-space travel

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NASA is now mulling over the idea of using commercial rockets to launch a critical mission around the Moon next year instead of using the massive rocket that the agency has been building for the last decade. Such a drastic change would not only upend flight plans for this particular mission, but it could also have big implications on how ambitious space travel programs are conducted in the future.

The impetus for this new commercial focus is to maintain the agency’s launch schedule. NASA’s rocket, the Space Launch System, or SLS, is taking much longer to make than expected and probably won’t be ready to fly by its current target launch date of June 2020, whereas other commercial vehicles already on the market are ready to fly right now.

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  • Publisher: The Verge
  • Date: 2019-03-15T11:45:15-04:00
  • Author: Loren Grush
  • Twitter: @verge
  • Citation: Web link (Read More)

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And here’s another article:

Rocket Report: SLS delays prompt NASA action, Brazil considering launch site

Welcome to Edition 1.40 of the Rocket Report! There were some Earth-shaking developments in heavy lift this week, with the announcement by NASA that it will consider using commercial rockets to perform the first Moon launch of the Orion spacecraft. Readers have also submitted a variety of interesting stories, such as Brazil considering a launch site to rival Kourou in neighboring French Guiana.

Vega-C rocket enters qualification phase, but slips. The new European small satellite launch system recently passed its Critical Design Review and is now ready to complete manufacturing and final testing as part of the qualification phase, according to the European Space Agency. The initial flight of the Vega-C booster, a more economical version of Arianespace’s Vega rocket, is now planned for early 2020 (this is a slip from late 2019).

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If SLS Won’t Launch NASA’s Moon Mission, What Will?

  • Publisher: Popular Mechanics
  • Date: 2019-03-14 08:54:00
  • Twitter: @PopMech
  • Citation: Web link (Read More)

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NASA Could Go to the Moon Next Year

NASA has spent the past decade working on the world’s most powerful rocket. The Space Launch System will stand taller than the Statue of Liberty. It will be capable of lifting more than 200,000 pounds into space. It’s designed to launch American astronauts toward the moon once again.

The SLS is supposed to fly for the first time in June 2020. NASA plans to launch an empty crew capsule on a trip around the moon and back, an important test before putting people on board. But the rocket isn’t ready.

‘We’re now understanding better how difficult this project is,’ Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, told Congress, which controls the agency’s budget, this week. ‘And it is going to take some additional time.’

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  • Publisher: The Atlantic
  • Date: 2019-03-14T09:55:47-04:00
  • Author: Marina Koren
  • Twitter: @theatlantic
  • Citation: Web link (Read More)

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NASA’s Supersize Space Launch System Might Be Doomed

It’s no secret that NASA’s Space Launch System is struggling to meet its schedule. The multibillion-dollar launcher is expected to ferry humans and cargo into deep space. The problem is, the agency has vocally committed to sending an American craft to the moon next year. NASA’s new lunar taxi, called Orion, is almost ready to go. But its ride’the big and bloated SLS’is still years from completion.

On Wednesday morning, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine appeared before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to discuss America’s leadership in space. During his testimony, he revealed an unexpected twist. For the first time, Bridenstine said that the agency would consider commercial rockets to get its crew capsule off the ground. For NASA, travel to deep space would no longer be SLS or bust.

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