A new report [pdf] released today from NASA’s inspector general has found more budget overruns and managerial issues relating to developing the ground software required by both Orion and SLS.
There are two software components involved, called SCCS and GFAS for brevity. This report focuses on the latter. A previous report found that “SCCS had significantly exceeded its initial cost and schedule estimates with development costs increasing approximately 77 percent and release of a fully operational version of the software slipping 14 months.” According to that previous report [pdf], that increase went from $117 million to $207 million.
As for GFAS:
Overall, as of October 2019 GFAS development has cost $51 million, about $14 million more than originally planned.
This report, as well as yesterday’s, are quite damning to the previous management of NASA’s manned program under Bill Gerstenmaier. It appears they could not get anything done on time and even close to their budget.
It also appears to me that the Trump administration has removed the reins from its inspector general offices. During the Obama administration I noticed a strong reticence in IG reports to criticize government operations. Problems as outlined in both yesterday’s and today’s reports would have been couched gently, to obscure how bad they were. Now the reports are more blunt, and are more clearly written.
Also, this sudden stream of releases outlining the problems in Artemis might be part of the Trump administration’s effort to shift from this government program to using private commercial companies. To do this however the administration needs Congressional support, which up to now has strongly favored funding SLS and Orion. Having these reports will strengthen the administration’s hand should it propose eliminating these programs, as it is now beginning to do with Gateway.
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