NASA “still working toward” 2020 launch of massive SLS rocket

On Nov. 15, NASA conducted a full-power, full-duration 650-second RS-25 engine test on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center.

Enlarge / On Nov. 15, NASA
conducted a full-power, full-duration 650-second RS-25 engine test
on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center. (credit: NASA)

NASA has continued to make progress with development of its
large Space Launch System rocket, as work continued on its critical
core stage throughout the partial government shutdown, and the
agency is nearing critical hardware tests. However, it now seems
all-but-certain that NASA will miss its latest launch date for the
first flight of the rocket, June 2020.

Multiple sources have told Ars that while NASA is still
targeting sometime later in 2020 for a test launch of the SLS
rocket and Orion spacecraft, known as Exploration Mission-1, this
flight is likely to slip into 2021.

This week, in response to a query about potential delays, a
spokeswoman for the agency’s exploration program, Kathryn
Hambleton, said the agency is not ready to discuss a new schedule
yet. “NASA is still assessing impacts as a result of the shutdown,
but we are still working toward a launch in 2020,” she told
Ars.

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NASA “still working toward” 2020 launch of massive SLS rocket