NASA OIG Artemis Review: Delays And Cost Overruns Are A Feature - Not A Bug

NASA OIG: NASA's Management Of The Artemis Program

"With Artemis I mission elements now being integrated and tested at Kennedy Space Center, we estimate NASA will be ready to launch by summer 2022 rather than November 2021 as planned. Although Artemis II is scheduled to launch in late 2023, we project that it will be delayed until at least mid-2024 due to the mission's reuse of Orion components from Artemis I. While the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division--which includes HLS, Gateway, and next-generation spacesuits--is working on an integrated master schedule (IMS) for Artemis III that incorporates Exploration Systems Development (ESD) Division programs--SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems--the draft version does not include information on programs critical to Artemis that are outside of AES and ESD. Given the time needed to develop and fully test the HLS and new spacesuits, we project NASA will exceed its current timetable for landing humans on the Moon in late 2024 by several years.

In addition, NASA lacks a comprehensive and accurate cost estimate that accounts for all Artemis program costs. For FYs 2021 through 2025, the Agency uses a rough estimate for the first three missions that excludes $25 billion for key activities related to planned missions beyond Artemis III. When aggregating all relevant costs across mission directorates, NASA is projected to spend $93 billion on the Artemis effort up to FY 2025., We also project the current production and operations cost of a single SLS/Orion system at $4.1 billion per launch for Artemis I through IV, although the Agency's ongoing initiatives aimed at increasing affordability seek to reduce that cost. Multiple factors contribute to the high cost of ESD programs, including the use of sole-source, cost-plus contracts; the inability to definitize key contract terms in a timely manner; and the fact that except for the Orion capsule, its subsystems, and the supporting launch facilities, all components are expendable and "single use" unlike emerging commercial space flight systems. Without capturing, accurately reporting, and reducing the cost of future SLS/Orion missions, the Agency will face significant challenges to sustaining its Artemis program in its current configuration."

Keith's note: "$4.1 billion/launch" - "Artemis III several years after late 2024". Money cannot solve this. This is going to come up at NSpC meeting on 1 December 2021 whether or not it is on the agenda - and if not mentioned in the meeting - then it certainly will be mentioned in the media. Now would be a good time for Space Team Biden to really consider how to "Build Back Better" and consider a pivot wherein you open up the entire Artemis architecture up to private sector solutions - and do so from a blank sheet of paper. These companies have all been thinking about how to do this for years. The standard reflex government action of setting up a "blue ribbon panel" to find out what went wrong will simply delay all of this and result in the same answer that we already have. If America wants to put Americans back on the Moon then someone needs to start to take this issue seriously. It will not solve itself.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 15, 2021 11:36 AM.

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