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NASA may be forced to rely on a commercial rocket to test its new crew capsule

orion launch delay

NASA is betting big on its Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft as a one-two punch that will send astronauts on missions to the Moon and beyond. Both the Orion and SLS are currently in development, but they're not progressing at nearly the same rate.

This leaves NASA in a bit of a pinch as it looks at its immediate schedule. A lunar test flight of the Orion, perched atop the SLS rocket to send it on its way, was supposed to take place by the middle of 2020, but the SLS is way behind schedule. The Orion program, meanwhile, appears ready to meet the date, and NASA leadership is now considering hiring a commercial rocket to send Orion around the Moon.

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