NASA OIG Report on Mars Science Laboratory Released

NASA OIG: Final Report: NASA's Management of the Mars Science Laboratory Project

"Our analysis of the Project's current estimate to complete development indicates that even the $537 million figure may be too low. Our analysis is based on the earned value management system budget data and estimates of the additional work that will be needed to address unknowns. We estimate that $581 million may be required - $44 million more than management's latest estimate. Based on our calculations, unless managers request additional money the Project may have insufficient funds to complete all currently identified tasks prior to launch and may therefore be forced to reduce capabilities, delay the launch for 2 years, or cancel the mission."

Keith's note: A media teleconference is now getting underway with NASA PAO and SMD's Dave Lavery.. Replays of this conference will be available at 888-567-0444. Notes below.

SMD concurs with report and has begun to implement reccommendations. Lavery: Contamination issues with manufacturing have been dealt with and the process now meets requirements. We are fully on schedule to make a launch this Fall. Software developement will continue during cruise to Mars. The original intent was to have it done before launch but this approach has been done before with MER. There may be some software updates as well once the rover is on Mars and surface and vehicle conditions have been fully understood. There is no plan to descope any of the capabilities of MSL due to software issues. Final mission cost: $1.8 billion - add in operations and the total life cycle cost is $2.5 billion.

Editors note: it is important to note that software updates to spacecraft en route to - and after arrival at - destinations is a capability NASA has demonstrated for decades. One look at the regular updates to Voyager spacecraft bears testimony to this approach.

Lavery: If we were to miss this launch opportunity we would need a larger launch vehicle and have to redesign the interface with the launcher. We'd need to add costs for the team to stay engaged and replan the mission since we'd be landing at a time when dust levels would be higher.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 8, 2011 2:34 PM.

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