This illustration made available by NASA shows the Space Launch System during liftoff. On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, NASA's top official said the space agency's new rocket won't be ready for a moon shot next year. (Marshall Space Flight Center/NASA via AP)
This illustration made available by NASA shows the Space Launch System during liftoff. On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, NASA’s top official said the space agency’s new rocket won’t be ready for a moon shot next year. (Marshall Space Flight Center/NASA via AP)

NASA’s large new rocket will not be ready for launch next year, the American space agency’s top official said this week.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told a Senate committee that he is thinking about using rockets made by private companies to keep the planned June 2020 launch date.

It’s a “critical piece of what NASA needs to build,” Bridenstine told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Bridenstine added that NASA would need two private rockets to take over the SLS’ job of launching the Orion capsule and an upper stage. Orion must dock with the upper stage in orbit around Earth before going to the Moon.

“This is 2019,” Senator Roger Wicker, the committee chairman, told Bridenstine. “I’d sure like to…