NASA informed the press that the internal target date for flying the successor to the space shuttle has been pushed back by a year. Agency officials say they are now aiming for a September 2014 launch for the first manned Orion mission.
This is a year later than Nasa had hoped for, but still inside its March 2015 absolute deadline. The officials say the funds currently available to develop Orion and its Ares launch rocket mean the faster timeline is no longer tenable.
Engineers also need time to grapple with a range of technical issues as they develop the new systems. These include trying to reduce the levels of vibration astronauts are likely to experience when they lift off atop the new Ares vehicle.
"The commitment date we have made to the administration and Congress has been March 2015 and that hasn't changed. "What we have changed is our internal planning date," explained Doug Cooke, the Nasa deputy associate administrator in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.
"Without as much information as we have today, we were attempting to close the gap between shuttle retirement and the first flight of Orion and Ares 1 to the absolute minimum; and so we were trying to push the project towards a September 2013 date internally.
NASA's final space shuttle retires on 31 May, 2010 and BBC says it's unlikely that NASA will be able to perform routine Orion trips to the ISS before 2016.