from the keep-the-taxpayer-money-flowing dept.
NASA's moon rocket has reached a point in cost overruns and delays that should trigger Congressional review, a report by the NASA Inspector General says.
The NASA Office of Inspector General said the Space Launch System rocket being developed to fly astronauts to the moon exceeded cost and schedule baselines by more than 30 percent at the end of fiscal year 2019. That 30 percent threshold should prompt Congressional attention, the OIG said, though NASA disagreed.
"NASA continues to struggle managing SLS (Space Launch System) Program costs and schedule as the launch date for the first integrated SLS/Orion mission slips further," according to the report released Tuesday. "Rising costs and delays can be attributed to challenges with program management, technical issues, and contractor performance."
<sarcasm>News of SLS being behind schedule and over budget will come as a shock to many. But we should take comfort that no problem is so great it cannot be solved by throwing more taxpayer money at it.</sarcasm>
NASA has asked the US aerospace industry how it would go about "maximizing the long-term efficiency and sustainability" of the Space Launch System rocket and its associated ground systems.
[...] In its request NASA says it would like to fly the SLS rocket for "30 years or more" as a national capability. Moreover, the agency wants the rocket to become a "sustainable and affordable system for moving humans and large cargo payloads to cislunar and deep-space destinations."
[...] Among the rocket's chief architects was then-Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who steered billions of dollars to Kennedy Space Center in his home state for upgraded ground systems equipment to support the rocket. Back in 2011, he proudly said the rocket would be delivered on time and on budget.
"This rocket is coming in at the cost of... not only what we estimated in the NASA Authorization act, but less," Nelson said at the time. "The cost of the rocket over a five- to six-year period in the NASA authorization bill was to be no more than $11.5 billion. This costs $10 billion for the rocket." Later, he went further, saying, "If we can't do a rocket for $11.5 billion, we ought to close up shop."
After more than 10 years, and more than $30 billion spent on the rocket and its ground systems, NASA has not closed up shop. Rather, Nelson has ascended to become the space agency's administrator.
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