NASA study finds first SLS launch should be unmanned for safety

The cost of adding astronauts to a maiden voyage is prohibitive.


It's an exciting time for spaceflight, for sure. Both NASA and SpaceX have plans in place to send rockets and humans into our solar system. Elon Musk's company wants to use the moon as a pit stop on its way to Mars, and NASA wanted to include a human crew on its now-delayed launch to test a new rocket and companion capsule. Today, however, a study by NASA has concluded that sending astronauts on the first flight is not feasible as the costs of keeping them safe are just too high.

NASA's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot Jr. requested the review back in February when he announced the agency's intention to add the crew to its 2018 launch. "I know the challenges associated with such a proposition," he wrote in a memo to NASA employees, "like reviewing the technical feasibility, additional resources needed, and clearly the extra work would require a different launch date." In April, the launch date was pushed back to 2019 due to technical problems.

Whether NASA or the Trump administration will take the recent study into account or not is still up in the air, according to a Bloomberg source. Still, adding a human crew to a potentially catastrophic maiden voyage like this can only increase the chances of a national tragedy, which would definitely slow down the current rush to return to space.