NASA wanted to fly astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a new spaceship called Orion by 2013. However, due to budget reasons, the plan has been strapped.
“The window of opportunity for us to accelerate Orion has closed,” program manager Jeff Hanley at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston told reporters.
Launching a new spaceship in 2013, in an effort to replace its retiring space shuttles, was a plan well before its formal 2015 deadline.
This only means that the United States will have no means to transport people to and from space after the shuttle fleet is retired in 2010. In the meantime, NASA will rely on Russia to fly its missions to the space station and private space companies carry its cargo.
NASA hopes to be able to fly an Orion crew to the International Space Station by September 2014.
The space agency will be forced to renegotiate several contracts with companies developing equipment and providing services under the “Constellation” program, which has a goal of landing astronauts on the moon by 2020.
Some contractors include Lockheed Martin Corp, which is developing the Orion spacecraft; Alliant Techsystems’ ATK Launch Systems; The Boeing Co; Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a United Technologies Corp company, which are working on the next generation rockets for future missions.