In Brief

NASA Will Give a Status Update Today on 1st Orion-SLS Megarocket Test Flight

SLS and Orion on the Pad: Artist Illustration
Artist's illustration of NASA's huge Space Launch System rocket on the launch pad. (Image credit: NASA)

Update for 4:45 pm ET: NASA has delayed the first test flight of the Orion/Space Launch System to 2019 and will not fly astronauts on the mission, which will fly around the moon before returning to Earth. Read our full story: NASA Won't Fly Astronauts On 1st Orion-SLS Test Flight Around the Moon

NASA apparently has some news to share about the first test flight of its new Orion spacecraft and its megarocket booster, the Space Launch System. The space agency will hold a press conference this afternoon (May 12) to provide a status update on the planned mission, which is known as Exploration Mission 1.

The briefing will be an audio teleconference and begin at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT). You can follow it live on here, courtesy of NASA, as well as directly from  the agency's audio news website here: Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot and Bill Gerstenmaier, the agency's Associate Administrator of Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate, will participate in the briefing, according to a NASA announcement. No other details on the briefing were provided.

Artist's illustration of NASA's huge Space Launch System rocket on the launch pad. (Image credit: NASA)

The EM-1 mission will be NASA's first combined test flight of the Orion deep-space crew capsule  and its Space Launch System rocket, known as SLS for short. The mission will use the SLS to launch the Orion spacecraft on a mission to loop around the moon before returning to Earth. The mission was initially planned to be an uncrewed test flight, but NASA has been studying the feasibility of adding an astronaut crew to the mission  at the request of the Trump administration. 

While NASA was aiming for a November 2018 launch for the mission, SpaceNews reported last week that the space agency was eyeing a possible one-year delay to 2019 after an April 27 Government Accountability Office report found that the agency would be unable to meet the 2018 goal. 

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.