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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.