NASA Rethinks First Flight Crew In Megarocket While Trump Administration Wants It MannedBy Amanda Foster, UniversityHerald Reporter
NASA is now weighing the risk of adding its first flight crew to the megarocket bound for deep space. Initially, the space agency is planning to send an unmanned rocket but changed its mind in the past few weeks.
Now, as NASA is thinking of adding astronauts to Orion, scientists leading the development are looking at the hardware and software aspects of the journey. Lead experts want to know if the Orion is capable of supporting life through a long-duration space travel to Mars.
Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator, has asked Bill Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to lead the feasibility study of adding a human crew to Exploration Mission-1. Gerstenmaier is a Purdue School of Aeronautics and Astronautics graduate who has a great interest in space.
NASA expects Gerstenmaier's study to be completed in early spring, as announced by NASA. The goal is to find out if their plans are going to be safe and effective for the mission. Gerstenmaier stresses that this is an assessment only and not a decision for the mission. The primary mission for the EM-1 still remains as an uncrewed flight.
Aside from making sure the goal of the mission is met, the rocket is able to support life and the flight crew is safe during the travel, NASA is also looking at how it can advance the national economy because of the investments placed in the mission.
But many are wondering why NASA suddenly changed its mind and wants to add astronauts in the megarocket. The reason behind this change is because of current United States President Donald Trump's administration asking NASA to explore the idea of putting humans in the first inaugural mission, as reported by Vocativ.
The pressure is on as the space agency only has a year or two to make the changes but the future of space exploration, according to the publication, is under the Trump administration and its goals are still uncertain.
Watch NASA's clip below of Orion's first test run: