Tag: GAO

GAO: NASA Needs Executable Business Case for SLS

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Artist rendering of the RS-25 engines powering the liftoff of the 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity configuration SLS from the pad. (Credit: NASA)

Artist rendering of the RS-25 engines powering the liftoff of the 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity configuration SLS from the pad. (Credit: NASA)

Space Launch System: Resources Need to be Matched to Requirements to Decrease Risk and Support Long Term Affordability
Government Accountability Office
Published: Jul 23, 2014

What GAO Found

The Space Launch System (SLS) program is making solid progress on the SLS design. However, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has not developed an executable business case based on matching the program’s cost and schedule resources with the requirement to develop the vehicle and conduct the first flight test in December 2017 at the required confidence level of 70 percent. NASA uses a calculation referred to as the “joint cost and schedule confidence level” to estimate the probable success of a program meeting its cost and schedule targets. NASA policy usually requires a 70 percent confidence level for a program to proceed with final design and fabrication.

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GAO Questions NASA Cost Estimates for SLS, Orion

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SLS, Orion, and GSDO Capabilities:  NASA plans for SLS Block IA to utilize advanced boosters, Block IB an exploration upper stage, and Block II the advanced boosters and exploration upper stage. The agency has not yet determined whether it will first develop the Block IA or Block IB variant. (Credit: GAO)

SLS, Orion, and GSDO Capabilities: NASA plans for SLS Block IA to utilize advanced boosters, Block IB an exploration upper stage, and Block II the advanced boosters and exploration upper stage. The agency has not yet determined whether it will first develop the Block IA or Block IB variant. (Credit: NASA)

A review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that NASA’s cost estimates for the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft are….well, crap. Although that’s not technically what the agency said, it’s pretty close.

“The scope of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) preliminary cost estimates for the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), and associated ground systems encompasses only the programs’ initial capabilities and does not include the long-term, life cycle costs associated with the programs or significant prior costs,” the report states.

The review, titled, “NASA: Actions Needed to Improve Transparency and Assess Long-Term Affordability of Human Exploration Programs,” was submitted to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, who is the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Key excerpts from the report follow.

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GAO Footnotes Parabolic Arc as NASA Ponders Need for Warp Drive, Flux Capacitors

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parabolicarc_gao_footnote

Credit: GAO

This is kind of cool. The Government Accountability Office footnoted Parabolic Arc in its decision to deny Blue Origin’s protest concerning the privatization of launch Pad 39A. I think it’s the first time we’ve been cited in a government report. Woo-hoo!

Credit: GAO

Credit: GAO

And while we’re on the topic, check out this bit of sarcasm from NASA that GAO quoted about its potential future need for “flux capacitors and warp drives.”

Blue Origin Loses GAO Appeal Over Pad 39A Bid Process

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Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Endeavour. (Credit: NASA)

Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Endeavour. (Credit: NASA)

Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin has lost a round in his battle with SpaceX’s Elon Musk over who will control former space shuttle launch Pad 39A in Florida.

In a 12-page decision, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has denied a protest by Blue Origin over the approach NASA is taking to commercialize the former space shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center.

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TPIS Releases White Paper in Support of SLS Review

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Tea Party in Space White Paper
Space Launch System Procurement Could Violate CICA

September 2011

Subject: De Facto Sole Sourcing of Space Launch System Would Violate Law

Summary: A violation of 41 U.S.C. 253 (the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984) will occur if NASA moves ahead with a decision to avoid full and open competition by implementing “de facto sole source awards” on the Space Launch System, which will cost anywhere from $111 to $322 billion in taxpayer funds, and potentially much more.

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GAO: NASA Acted Legally in Constellation Actions

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The Government Accountability Office has issued a report saying that NASA acted legally in its efforts on the Constellation lunar program. Congressional appropriators had called for investigation, saying that the Administration was illegally attempting to shut down the program in violation of a law requiring Congressional approval.

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GAO: NASA Faces Significant Challenges in Conducting ISS Research

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International Space Station

International Space Station

The Government Accountability Office has found that after spending a quarter century planning and building the International Space Station, NASA may not be able to fully use the facility for space research because of a lack of transportation, funding and organization.

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GAO: FAA Facing Oversight Challenges as Commercial Space Sector Grows

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faa_logo

The Federal Aviation Administration faces a number of key challenges in overseeing the growing commercial space launch industry, according to a Government Accountability report released last week.

These include maintaining a sufficient number of staff with the necessary expertise to oversee the safety of launches and spaceport operations; determining whether FAA’s current safety regulations are appropriate for all types of commercial space vehicles, operations, and launch sites; developing information to help FAA decide when to regulate crew and passenger safety after 2012; and continuing to avoid conflicts between FAA’s regulatory and promotional roles.

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GAO: Constellation’s Cost, Schedule Remain Uncertain

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Ares 1-X undergoing assembly

Ares 1-X undergoing assembly

Nearly six years after President George W. Bush launched the program, NASA’s Constellation program still lacks a sound business case, a defined schedule, and clear cost estimates. So says the Government Accountability Office in a new report titled, “Constellation Program Cost and Schedule Will Remain Uncertain Until a Sound Business Case Is Established.”

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GAO: PlanetSpace Appeal Rejected Due to Subcontracting, Financial Concerns

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The Government Accountability Office has released a document that explains why it denied PlanetSpace’s appeal of NASA’s decision to award commercial launch contracts to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation.

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