Report: Orion's aggressive launch plan hurt by 'funding instability'

A report issued by NASA’s inspector general Tuesday said that “much work remains” in the space agency’s effort to prepare its Orion spacecraft for an eventual flight to Mars in the 2030s.

Among the obstacles facing NASA, according to the report, are delivery delays of a service module for the spacecraft, multiple financial shortfalls and the need for a successful test flight in September 2018 that will send Orion around the moon.

That test flight will carry with it 13 small satellites into space as well.

The report found that “officials are working toward an optimistic internal launch date of August 2021 for (a crewed test launch around the moon) – 20 months earlier than the agency’s external commitment date of April 2023.”