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Only NASA Could Make A Reusable Engine Expendable – And Cost More
Only NASA Could Make A Reusable Engine Expendable – And Cost More

Keith’s note: According to a new NASA OIG Report NASA’s Management of the Space Launch System Booster and Engine Contracts: the complexity of developing, updating, and integrating new systems along with heritage components proved to be much greater than anticipated, resulting in the completion of only 5 of 16 engines under the Adaptation contract and added scope and cost increases to the Boosters contract. Additionally, Marshall Space Flight Center procurement officials who oversee all four contracts are challenged by inadequate staff, their lack of experience, and limited opportunities to review contract documentation. Marshall procurement officials also encountered significant issues with the award of BPOC, the follow-on booster contract, which started as an undefinitized letter contract in which terms, specifications, and price were not agreed upon before performance began. We found NASA took 499 days to definitize the letter contract, which is far outside the 180-day federal guidance. As a result, we question $19.8 million in award fees it received for the 11 unfinished engines which were subsequently moved to the RS-25 Restart and Production contract and may now be eligible to receive additional award fees. Faced with continuing cost and schedule increases, NASA is undertaking efforts to make the SLS more affordable. Under the RS-25 Restart and Production contract, NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne are projecting manufacturing cost savings of 30 percent per engine starting with production of the seventh of 24 new engines. However, those savings do not capture overhead and other costs, which we currently estimate at $2.3 billion. Moreover, NASA currently cannot track per-engine costs to assess whether they are meeting these projected saving targets.”

  • NASA Watch
  • May 25, 2023