Costs, delays mount for Boeing's NASA launch system, audit finds

NASA's February 2018 artist concept image shows the next generation of NASA's Space Launch System

NASA's February 2018 artist concept image shows the next generation of NASA's Space Launch System

The baseline cost and schedule for SLS and associated Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) were set by NASA in 2014 using the first launch, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1, recently renamed Artemis-1), as the milestone. The report details the persistent cost and development overruns of the Orion, SLS, and related systems projects. The rocket was initially deliberate to launch in 2017. "The primary launch is subsequent 12 months, an uncrewed launch", he said.

NASA has been taking part in down the true cost of its Boeing Artemis-1 moon rocket, a government watchdog says. "Everything has to go completely" to take care of that 2020 launch date, he mentioned, "however there's a shot". However, the GAO report notes that "any issues uncovered during planned integration and testing may push the launch date as late as June 2021".

The GAO says the billion figure is "understated", and a more accurate number is $1.8 billion.

A new report from the Authorities Accountability Workplace discovered that the prime contractors for the House Launch System and Orion spacecraft obtained lots of thousands of dollars in award charges regardless of continued points that can seemingly result in additional delays within the applications. The report indicates that the program is significantly more over budget than the 5.6 percent NASA has estimated.

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NASA criticizes GAO because it "repeatedly projects the worst-case schedule outcome" and objects to the "unnecessarily negative language" in the title and section headings and lack of acknowledgement by GAO of the progress that has been made. It also disagrees that the agency is not transparent in reporting costs. That has made it hard to be efficient and execute programs effectively. But the programs continue to fall behind schedule and overrun costs. That's when the main core of the rocket will be fired on the ground, to see if all the components of the rocket work together.

GAO concedes that the government and the contractors share responsibility for the cost growth and delays, but suggests that as NASA renegotiates the contracts with both companies, it change its approach to incentives and rely on those that use objective criteria instead of award fees. In March, Vice President Mike Pence called on NASA to expedite its lunar program and send people to the Moon by 2024, instead of 2028 like the agency had planned.

Even if Congress somehow funds the whole program as desired, meeting the 2024 deadline is reliant on NASA's hardware being built on time, and this latest report shows that the GAO remains pessimistic about the prospect of Orion and the SLS meeting that five-year goal. The agency says it will adhere to some of the recommendations that the GAO advised in its report, including ways to come up with better estimates for the program.

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