NASA pushes 1st manned flight of Orion to 2023

Marcia Dunn
Associated Press

Cape Canaveral — NASA’s newest spacecraft, the Orion, won’t be flying astronauts as soon as anticipated.

On Wednesday, top NASA officials said there isn’t much confidence in the original 2021 launch date. That’s because of the space agency’s history of running into unexpected problems in new programs, like Orion. Managers set 2023 as the new official launch date, although they said they haven’t given up yet on 2021.

Orion is meant to expand human exploration in space, principally Mars. The capsule will blast off atop a megarocket still under development by NASA, called SLS (S-L-S) for Space Launch System. An unmanned test flight of Orion and the new SLS rocket is still on schedule for 2018.

The spacecraft sailed through its first test flight in December.