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Large Artemis Delays Anticipated. Again.

By Keith Cowing
March 1, 2022
Filed under , , , ,

The Honorable Paul K. Martin, NASA Inspector General,
“Specifically, NASA’s initial three Artemis missions face varying degrees of technical difficulties that will push launch schedules from months to years past their current goals. With all necessary elements for the Artemis I mission now being integrated and tested at Kennedy Space Center, we estimate that NASA is progressing toward the first launch of the integrated SLS/Orion space flight system by summer 2022. With Artemis II, NASA is facing additional schedule delays–until at least mid-2024–due to the second mission’s reuse of Orion components from Artemis I. Finally, given the time needed to develop and fully test the HLS and NASA’s next-generation spacesuits needed for lunar exploration, the date for a crewed lunar landing likely will slip to 2026 at the earliest.
Moreover, our detailed examination of Artemis program contracts found its costs unsustainable. Given our estimate of a $4.1 billion per-launch cost of the SLS/Orion system for at least the first four Artemis missions, NASA must accelerate its efforts to identify ways to make its Artemis-related programs more affordable. Otherwise, relying on such an expensive single-use, heavy-lift rocket system will, in our judgment, inhibit if not derail NASA’s ability to sustain its long-term human exploration goals of the Moon and Mars. In addition, the Agency has seen significant cost growth in the Mobile Launchers, spacesuits, and to a lesser degree the Gateway. However, since NASA is following its commercial crew model in the HLS procurement, cost increases may be controlled in part due to the fixed-price, milestone-based contracts where SpaceX, the contractor, shares the costs of development.”

Chairwoman Johnson
Chairman Beyer
Ranking Member Brian Babin
Ranking Member Frank Lucas
Mr. James Free, Associate Administrator, Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, NASA
Mr. William Russell, Director, Contracting and National Security Acquisitions,GAO
Dr. Patricia Sanders, Chair, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel
Mr. Daniel Dumbacher, Executive Director, AIAA

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.