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To Crew, Or Not To Crew, That Is The Question

Artist's concept of SLS/Orion on the launch pad. Photo: NASA
Artist's concept of SLS/Orion on the launch pad. Photo: NASA

To crew, or not to crew, that is the question. Well, that’s the question NASA’s acting director Robert Lightfoot is proposing for the next Orion mission.

Orion is NASA’s next human spacecraft that will take astronauts beyond low earth orbit into deep space - first to places like cis-lunar orbit and ideally it will eventually go to Mars.

The next test flight of Orion is atop the  Space Launch System, SLS. Currently, it's slated for a November 2018 launch but delays in hardware and certification threaten to push that back even further. The mission, Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) is an uncrewed flight to an orbit around the moon. It would be the first time a human-rated spacecraft will head to deep space sin the Apollo missions and it's the first time the SLS will fly.

Despite delays and uncertainty, Lightfoot asked if there’s a chance the agency could get astronauts on this mission. NASA doesn’t have an answer yet.

Chris Gebhart is the Assistant Managing Editor at NASASpaceFlight.com and co-author of a piece looking at the possibilities of a crewed EM-1 mission. He joins the podcast to discuss three options for EM-1, and his best guess at what's to come for the program.

Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.
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