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Audit Says NASA Hid $17 Billion in Orion-related Costs

19 Jul 2020, 01:08 UTC
Audit Says NASA Hid $17 Billion in Orion-related Costs
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Orion undergoing testing at Plum Brook Station. (Credit: NASA–Marvin Smith)

by Douglas MessierManaging Editor

A new audit of the Orion lunar crew vehicle has found that NASA has excluded $17 billion in program‐related costs from its budget estimate, and the space agency has paid “overly generous” performance awards to prime contractor Lockheed Martin despite the program being over budget and behind schedule.

The $17 billion in excluded costs resulted from NASA’s decision to deviate from the Life Cycle Cost estimate required for all major space programs costing more than $250 million. The deviation covers fiscal years 2006-2030 for the crewed spacecraft, which will be used in the Artemis lunar program.

“NASA tailored the [Agency Baseline Commitment] (ABC) to only include costs related to Artemis I and II and a schedule based on the proposed Artemis II launch date,” the audit said. “Based on these limitations, in 2015 the Agency set the program’s ABC at $11.3 billion, split between $4.5 billion in formulation costs and $6.8 billion in development costs, with Artemis II launch readiness expected by April 2023.

Credit: NASA OIG

“This tailored approach meant that cost increases or schedule delays not directly attributable to Artemis I and II ...

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