WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group)- Members of Congress held a hearing with NASA on Capitol Hill Thursday to discuss the future of human spaceflight and space exploration.
President Donald Trump signed the NASA Transition Authorization Act in March 2017. The act approves the proposed funding levels for Fiscal Year 2017 set at $19.5 billion.
According to the House Science, Space and TechnologyCommittee website the bill maintains “support for the James Webb Space Telescope, the Space Launch System, the Orion crew vehicle, the International Space Station, and the commercial crew and cargo programs.”
Thursday’s hearing held by the Subcommittee on Spaces focused primarily on the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion crew vehicle, and improvements to ground infrastructure for these projects. Recent extreme weather like the tornadoes and hurricanes that affected Texas and Florida have led to some setbacks to NASA’s schedule for these programs.
NASA’s Space Launch System is a new advanced heavy lift rocket intended to become the next primary vehicle for space exploration and use in deep space. NASA’s website calls the rocket “the world’s most powerful rocket.”
“Offering the highest-ever payload mass and volume capability and energy to speed missions through space, SLS is designed to be flexible and evolvable, to meet a variety of crew and cargo mission needs,” according to NASA.
Engineers have already begun production on this rocket and NASA intends on making its first launch before 2020. The rocket will launch astronauts in the new Orion spacecraft. Orion was built with the similar expectation to transport astronauts into deep space and return them to earth.
NASA has two projected missions for Orion in the near future called exploration missions one and two. The first mission will last about 25 days, and no crew will ride in the crew capsule.
“Orion will make a large orbit around the moon. The spacecraft will go farther into space than people have traveled before. After Orion is tested on this mission, it will soon be time for the spacecraft to transport humans,” NASA states.
The second mission, also known as exploration mission two, will carry a crew and follow the same path as the first mission.
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