NASA Sets A 2018 Launch Date For The Rocket That Will Take Us To Mars
The SLS's maiden flight, dubbed "EM-1" is slated for November, 2018, and will catapult an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a three-week test flight beyond the Moon. That's a year later than officials had originally hoped, but was reportedly necessary to assess the technological and financial investments necessary to deliver on a spacecraft initially billed as a "safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching beyond our current limits and opening up new discoveries from the unique vantage point of space."
"After rigorous review, we're committing today to a funding level and readiness date that will keep us on track to sending humans to Mars in the 2030s – and we're going to stand behind that commitment," said Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, at a press briefing held on Wednesday. "Our nation is embarked on an ambitious space exploration program."
"We are making excellent progress on SLS designed for missions beyond low Earth orbit," he said. "We owe it to the American taxpayers to get it right."