Watchdog Finds NASA Projects Costly and Behind Schedule

This 2015 artist’s rendering shows the James Webb Space Telescope. (Northrop Grumman/NASA via AP)

(CN) – A government watchdog group reported Thursday that NASA’s major space projects are over budget and falling behind schedule.

The report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that, NASA’s top undertakings are exceeding their baseline costs by more than 27% and launches are being delayed on average by 13 months, the longest scheduling setback seen in the decade the watchdog has been assessing the projects.

“NASA hasn’t been able to meet its cost and schedule goals on some of its costliest programs, like the James Webb Space Telescope and human spaceflight efforts,” according to a summary of the report. “Now these programs are staying in the portfolio longer than planned as NASA is starting new efforts, such as going back to the Moon.”

This will place a strain on NASA’s budget going forward, the GAO said.

“NASA will have to either increase its annual funding request or make tradeoffs between projects,” the report summary states.

A predecessor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope project is costing NASA an estimated $9.6 billion, according to the GAO. First predicted to launch in 2007, its initial estimates were as low as $1 billion. The amount of required funds for NASA’s Space Launch System have also increased and senior NASA officials told the GAO that “it is unlikely these programs will meet the launch date of June 2020” – a date that has already been pushed back by 19 months.

But the trend is nothing new for NASA. In its annual report released last year, the GAO found that nine out of 17 NASA projects were requiring more money and time than initially anticipated. 

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