NASA reportedly told President Donald Trump that they would not be putting astronauts onboard its new rocket. The New York Times reported on Friday that in February the president requested NASA look into the possibility of manning the Space Launch System, which is scheduled to launch in a year and a half.
On Friday, Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., the acting NASA administrator, announced that while it was technically possible to put astronauts on the rocket, it would not be worth it due to cost and risk. “It really reaffirmed the baseline plan we have in place is the best way to go," Lightfoot told the Times.
Sending the rocket into space already costs $24 billion, and astronauts would have added $600 million to $900 million to that cost, in addition to delaying the launch until 2020.
The original plan, the one that is currently being followed, has the first launch being an unmanned three week mission set to go thousands of miles past the moon. A launch with astronauts is scheduled to happen three years later, but, as the Times notes, is likely to be delayed.