After Donald Trump moved into the White House in January, his advisers asked NASA to consider the possibility of a splashy achievement during the president’s first term.
Shortly following that, the space agency announced that it had begun to study the possibility of adding crew members to the maiden launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
This seemed an ambitious ask for 2019. Not only was the agency already scrambling to meet a November 2018 deadline for an uncrewed test flight of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, but few of the life support systems needed to keep crew members alive during a spaceflight were planned to be ready before 2021.
Also, it’s rare to launch crew on the first flight of any rocket, as engineers like to have confidence in their launch system before adding humans.
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