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NASA Plans First Manned Deep Space Mission Of The Orion Spacecraft

First Posted: Feb 25, 2017 03:49 AM EST
First Manned Deep Space Mission
Safety of the crew is being addressed, before the mission gets a green signal.
(Photo : Jeff Quitney/YouTube screenshot)

The much anticipated test launch of the Orion spacecraft has become even more interesting, after NASA proposed the inclusion of a manned crew to fly the deep space mission. The proposal, however, is not accepted as of yet. The safety panel is trying to look into the issue and contemplate the situation, while NASA is trying to calculate the cost of doing the necessary changes in the spacecraft to make it appropriate for a manned deep space mission.

Orion spacecraft has been under the scanner due to the possibility that it may be the first spacecraft that may be sent to Mars in the near future. The spacecraft's Exploration Mission-1, which is tentatively scheduled for 2018, may be delayed since NASA wants to add a manned crew to it. This slight change in the plan comes with numerous physical changes that need to be done inside the spacecraft, so that it can accommodate the extra passengers while being launched into the deep space, CTV News reported.

Patricia Sander from the safety advisory committee explained that to accommodate astronauts, "several changes would be required, adding complexity, unknowns and almost certainly risk, not to mention cost, schedule and potential opportunity cost implications."

In a meeting conducted on Feb. 23, 2017, the safety and budgetary constraints associated with the addition of manned crew to the mission was addressed. The independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel of NASA stated that the reason and benefits of including astronauts in the first deep space mission of the Orion spacecraft should be worthy enough to sanction the extra funds required for it, Space.com noted.

The safety advisers and NASA scientists agree that the technical issues should be first addressed in great detail. The memory of the losing three Apollo 1 astronauts in the 1967 fire is still fresh among NASA officials. This is why they are extra cautious that any space mission should be given a green signal only after thorough safety checks, followed by the certification by the panel regarding the same -- and the Orion spacecraft deep space mission is no exception.

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