The maiden flight of America's new deep-space exploration rocket will not launch in 2018 as originally planned. And it will not have a crew.

  • NASA announced SLS rocket maiden mission will slip to 2019
  • Rocket was supposed to launch in 2018
  • NASA says mission will not have a crew
  • RELATED: Rocket Launch Schedule

The Space Launch System rocket and the Orion capsule were supposed to launch in its first mission in 2018.

The 20-25 day mission is supposed to head towards the moon, test various systems, then return and land in the Pacific Ocean.

But NASA said costs and tornado damage to the agency's Michoud rocket assembly facility in New Orleans last February will force NASA to push the mission back to 2019.

NASA admitted last month that it may not be ready for a 2018 launch after a General Accounting Office report questioned whether the space agency was being realistic about its schedule and budget requests.

Meanwhile, President Trump had asked NASA to consider putting a crew on the SLS for the first launch.

But NASA says the risk to astronauts will be too great, plus the cost to add a crew to the mission would be in the $600 million to $900 million range.

Future deep space crewed missions are planned for the 2020s.