The U.S space agency said on Friday that it was studying the possibility of moving the date of the first inhabited mission from its Orion capsule to distant space for a trip around the moon. Orion will fly "farther than any spacecraft ever built to (transport) humans," promises NASA, which hopes to eventually send this inhabited capsule to Mars, possibly as early as the 2030s.

Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1)

The first Orion flight, named Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), is currently scheduled for 2018 and without a crew. The capsule should not carry astronauts until its second flight (EM-2), an eight-day mission scheduled from 2021 onwards.

But, NASA executive director Robert Lightfoot asked the Space Agency on February 15 to assess the feasibility of embarking astronauts on the first mission. The findings of this study are expected in the coming weeks.

"Our priority is to ensure the safety and efficiency of the implementation of all of our planned exploration missions," said Orion, said Bill Gerstenmaier, deputy NASA manned flight manager. Orion will be propelled to space by "the world's most powerful rocket" called "Space Launch System" (SLS,) Nasa says. The capsule should "stay in space longer than any other ship built for astronauts has ever done without docking at a space station," the U.S agency said.

The study of adding crew members

The current study evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of adding two crew members to the first mission. The decision will be made in consultation with the astronauts, once the findings of the study are known, said Bill Gerstenmaier. The conduct of this study could delay the EM-1 mission until mid-2019.

Nasa's recent discovery:

A study published on Wednesday revealed the existence of a system of seven planets the size of the Earth around a small star. Three of them could potentially be habitable. Astronomers have discovered the existence of a system of seven planets the size of the Earth around a dwarf star. The United States space agency tweeted regarding the same today.

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