NASA struggles to manage costs of heavy-lift rocket that will carry astronauts to moon, officials say

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — NASA is struggling to manage the costs and schedule for the SLS, the heavy-lift rocket that could ultimately carry astronauts to the moon, according to agency officials.

The space launch system is a key part of helping NASA reach its goal of putting boots on the moon by 2024.

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NASA’s office of inspector general said Tuesday said the agency continues to struggle managing the SLS program costs and schedule as the launch date slips for the first integrated SLS/Orion mission, an uncrewed orbit around the moon known as Artemis 1.

“There’s so much science we can do on the moon, and move humanity to Mars after that,” said Ken Kremer with Space UpClose.

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NASA’s office of inspector general made several recommendations including: NASA should notify Congress that the SLS program has exceeded its agency baseline commitment by at least 30 percent, and to provide greater visibility into overall cost and schedule estimates for tha tprogram, and other human spaceflight programs.

As last December, $15 billion had been spent on the SLS program, according to NASA officials. Primary issues include challenges with program management, technical issues and contractor performance.

Boeing is providing the rocket’s core and upper stages.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Boeing said: “In partnership with NASA, Boeing is building the only rocket capable of safely and efficiently delivering humans and necessary hardware back to the moon. Such an undertaking has certainly had its cost and schedule challenges over the years, but the investment has paid off in bringing together the required talent, technology and tooling to build this unprecedented deep-space rocket.”

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.