NASA has decided to delay by one year the planned launch dates for both its unmanned and manned missions to an asteroid.
And why might you ask?
Mr. Gerstenmaier further stated that “We had trouble getting the funding together for this thing. So this slip of the one year that you see wasn’t caused by technical. It was really caused by budget availability. We just didn’t have the budget available to go do this.”
Also, the article notes that the launch rocket for the unmanned mission, now set for 2021, will be one of three possible rockets.
No elaboration was given as to what those “three rockets” are, though SLS, one of SpaceX’s Falcon family of rockets, and Atlas V are understood to be the prime contenders at this time.
The unmanned mission might happen (though I wouldn’t bet on it). As for the manned mission, there is a reason NASA has had trouble getting funding. SLS/Orion cost too much. Congress simply doesn’t want to spend that much for the actual missions. They will dole out a lot of cash for development (and the pork that goes with it), but even they can’t afford the gigantic budgets NASA needs to actually fly real missions.