from the Now-that's-just-sick! dept.
A NASA audit concluded that costs imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the agency could reach $3 billion, with several major science and exploration programs accounting for much of that cost.
A March 31 report by the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) stated that the agency expects that the pandemic's effects on the agency, ranging from closed facilities to disrupted supply chains, to be nearly $3 billion. Of that, about $1.6 billion came from 30 major programs and projects, defined by NASA as those with a total cost of at least $250 million.
[...] The project with the largest cost increase in the report is the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, formerly known as the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). It reported $3 million in costs because of the pandemic in fiscal year 2020, but estimates nearly $400 million in additional impacts in future years. The mission has a lifecycle cost of $3.9 billion.
[...] The Space Launch System had the second-highest cost increase in terms of overall dollars, at $363 million, of which $8 million was in fiscal year 2020 and $355 million in fiscal years 2021 through 2023. A three-month delay in the first SLS mission, Artemis 1, along with "rephrasing production" each accounted for about one-third of the costs. The rest came from "surge costs" to compress schedules as well as the costs of facility shutdowns.
The Orion spacecraft suffered $146 million in costs, including $5 million in fiscal year 2020 and $66 million in fiscal year 2021. Because the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 1 mission was nearly complete at the time the pandemic hit, the largest effects were on the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 2 and 3 missions, both still in production. Those problems extended to Europe, with delays in the production of the European Service Module for the Artemis 2 Orion.
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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