NASA’s Orion spaceship, which is being built to one day carry astronauts to deep space, may not launch with crew on board until 2023, the US space agency said Wednesday.
The delay could set back the mission — which is costing NASA $6.77 billion — nearly two years.
After the latest mission review in August, NASA has “much lower confidence” that the current target date of 2021 can be met and is considering the possibility of launching no later than April 2023, said NASA associate administrator Robert Lightfoot.
Funding, software development, testing and a variety of other factors have contributed to the anticipated delay, said Lightfoot.
“One of the factors in the model is absolutely budget,” said Lightfoot.
“It is also a timing thing. I can’t get (the funding) all in the last year and be expected to work that.”
He said the projections were based on President Barack Obama’s budget request for NASA, and he noted that the team is making “incredible progress” on building an exploration program that will carry humans farther into space than ever before, using the most powerful rockets ever built.