NASA's new rocket won't be ready for moon shot next year

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA's top official says the space agency's new rocket won't be ready for a moon shot next year.

Administrator Jim Bridenstine told a Senate committee Wednesday he's considering switching to commercial rockets to preserve the June 2020 launch date.

Bridenstine says two commercial rockets would be needed, one to launch the Orion capsule and its European-built service module, the other to launch an upper stage. Orion would have to dock with the upper stage in orbit around Earth, before heading to the moon.

NASA's SLS, or Space Launch System, rocket, could do everything in one fell swoop.

Bridenstine says NASA will decide in the next couple weeks whether to stick with its rocket and delay — or go commercial for this one test flight.

It originally was scheduled this year.

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