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Fri, Feb 17, 2017

SLS EM-1 Flight May Be A Manned Mission

Memo From Acting NASA Administrator Calls For Study Of The Idea

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot distributed a memo Wednesday asking the agency to look into what would be required to have astronauts fly on the first launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket currently under development.

In the memo, Lightfoot says that in his interactions with President Trump and his administration, it is clear that NASA is a priority. He said he recently told the Space Launch System/Orion Suppliers Conference that the program has already hit a lot of milestones, and the next ones are obtainable in the near future.

With that in mind, Lightfoot said he has asked Bill Gerstenmaier to initiate a study to assess the feasibility of adding a crew to Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion.

"I know the challenges associated with such a proposition, like reviewing the technical feasibility, additional resources needed, and clearly the extra work would require a different launch date. That said, I also want to hear about the opportunities it could present to accelerate the effort of the first crewed flight and what it would take to accomplish that first step of pushing humans farther into space," Lightfoot said in the memo. "The SLS and ORION missions, coupled with those promised from record levels of private investment in space, will help put NASA and America in a position to unlock those mysteries and to ensure this nation’s world preeminence in exploring the cosmos.

"There has been a lot of speculation in the public discourse about NASA being pulled in two directions – what has come before and what we want to do now. At NASA, this is an “and” proposition, not an “or.” To get where we want to go, we need to work with the companies represented at the SLS and ORION suppliers conference AND those industry partners that work with us in other areas across the country – all of whom have the long-term view on this work. We must work with everyone to secure our leadership in space – and we will.

"This is indeed an exciting time for our agency, and I know all of us share in this enthusiasm. I admire your passion and energy, and I want you to know how important you are to the success of the team and to the future of NASA. Your innovation and creative thinking will drive America’s influence in the coming years and decades."

(Source: Lightfoot memo. Image from file)

FMI: http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=49863

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