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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is not planning to develop a second mobile launch platform that could shorten the gap between the first two Space Launch System missions as it makes few changes in general to its exploration programs despite a renewed focus on the moon.
The mobile launch platform, originally built for the Constellation Program and currently being modified to support the SLS, will be used for one launch of the initial Block 1 version of the SLS, designated Exploration Mission (EM) 1. That platform will then have to be modified to accommodate the taller Block 1B version that will be used on second and subsequent SLS missions.
NASA - Year - Budget - Proposal - Feb
However, NASA's fiscal year 2019 budget proposal released Feb. 12 made no mention of developing a second platform. "We did not include it in the president's budget request," said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, during a panel discussion Feb. 28 at the 45th Space Congress here. "Right now we're on our baseline path to modify the mobile launcher after EM-1."
Hill confirmed after the panel discussion that a second mobile launcher was no longer under consideration, citing a need to fund other exploration programs within the overall budget. "We've got a funding level, and it's got to be shared among the various priorities," he said.
Gap - EM-1 - EM-2 - Platform - EM-1
He said that while there's not much they can do to shorten that gap between EM-1 and EM-2, they're confident they understand what it will take to modify the platform after EM-1. "We've got a good handle on it, a good understanding of what it's going to take," he said of the modifications, which involve extending the tower by more than 13 meters and redoing elevators, wiring, plumbing and other systems.
Hill and Mike Bolger, manager of NASA's Exploration Ground Systems program, also addressed reports that the...
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