Jeff Foust of SpaceNews, on NASA’s cislunar habitat plans:
Gerstenmaier, in an interview after his conference presentation, said putting a crew on EM-1 could open up new possibilities for EM-2 and later missions. “It makes EM-2 be more of an aggressive mission, and we can do more with the cargo that’s behind the Orion capsule on that flight,” he said.
Certainly sounds like NASA’s plans have changed since their EM-2 payload RFI went out back in October:
Current EM-2 mission concepts assumes that any co-manifested payloads would deploy from SLS and have no further interaction with the rocket or Orion spacecraft. NASA would provide the launch opportunity, and the payload provider would assume all payload costs.
As I had commented then, it always seemed like they were leaning towards launching a chunk of a habitat on EM-2.