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NASA has delayed the first test flight of Orion’s launch abort system by two years to 2017.

NASA has delayed the first test flight of Orion’s launch abort system by two years to 2017.

NASA officials have been warning since last year that work on Orion would be slowed to keep pace with the development of SLS and its launch infrastructure. The agency has proposed trimming Orion’s $1.2 billion budget back to $1 billion for 2013. With the high-altitude abort test facing at least a budget-driven delay, the Langley team has proposed conducting one or more less-expensive tests in its place. Ortiz said conducting a hot-fire test in 2015 or 2016 would “keep the [launch abort system] project moving forward and help alleviate risk.”

I predict that Dragon will not only test its launch abort system first, it will have humans flying on it before Orion. And Dragon will do this for a fraction of the total cost that Orion and SLS spend per year. I also predict that when Dragon does this, Congress will finally begin noticing this disparity, and SLS will die unlaunched.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Kelly Starks

    What congress noticed is SpaceX cost more then anyone else ever used to deliver cargo to the ISS, with a bad failure rate. Also that Dragon offers no potential for BEO, or of sustaining any US capacity.

  • Hilarious! But you should include a tag to let everyone know it’s a joke.

  • Patrick

    Is it really that hard for NASA to get a clue and change its procedures to quicken things up a bit?

    Nasa in my opinion is still just an employment agency for more and more government workers.

    More than likely engineers who couldn’t get work outside the government.

  • Joe

    Good idea to leave out the parts about “could be delayed” and “to accommodate the tighter program budgets anticipated”. That kind of context only confuses things.

    I am sure you will do the same if Space X delays any of their milestones due to budget shortfalls (which are already happening in Commercial Crew).

    Note that if Space X makes it’s September 2012 launch date for its first operational cargo delivery to ISS if will be 2 years 10 months behind schedule and there were no budget shortfalls there.

  • Patrick

    I wonder what SpaceX could do with a BILLION dollar budget and the power of the US government behind them?

    I don’t think the total budget of SpaceX for ALL its projects is more than a billion dollars.
    I think Falcon9 cost then less than 500 milliontotal to develop, test, build and launch.

    Nasa is talking about a yearly budget of a 1.2 billion dollars with an estimated final launch date of 2018. Added together that’s over 10 billion to make a launch.

  • Kelly Starks

    >.. I don’t think the total budget of SpaceX for ALL its projects is more than a billion dollars.

    I beleave they got $800 million in development money from NASA alone. Musk put in $100M. NOt sure about the rest – but I’m real sure its well over a billion.

  • Kelly Starks

    I could supply the URL to the goverment report on that — assuming your actually interested.

  • Ken

    I’ve come from 2019.

    SpaceX not only delivers cargo to ISS but also lands it’s rockets on their butts like God intended. They haven’t launched a crewed Dragon yet due to an abort system failure. If all goes well they will launch by the end of 2019. However they are also building a much larger rocket ultimately designed to fly to Mars and back.

    NASA, on the other hand, has completely mismanaged the SLS and Orion which will not be ready for first flight until 2021 and NASA bureaucrats find it impossible to land on the Moon by 2024. Basically they have various parts scattered here and yon.

    The same people in 2012 are making the same excuses in 2019. Apparently blowing through $50 billion is just not enough money and 9 years of development is not enough time. Stop laughing.

    Oh and Donald Trump is President.

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