Friday, April 4, 2008

GAO Report: Constellation, Ares & Orion have "dangerous unknowns"

The General Accounting Office, an independent investigation and accounting arm of the U.S. Congress, released a report highly critical of the Constellation program under development by NASA as the core program for American manned spaceflight after the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010. The GAO report lists "dangerous unknowns" with its focus particularly on the Ares 1 booster and Orion CSV segments, presently assigned to bring an end to a "planned hold" on American government-built manned spacecraft, in 2015.

NASA: Ares I and Orion Project Risks
and Key Indicators to Measure Progress

GAO-08-186T, April 3, 2008
Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF)
Full Report (PDF, 19 pages)

From the Orlando Sentinel
Shuttle successor flawed,
dangerous, GAO report finds

by Robert Block and Mark K. Matthews Sentinel Staff Writers

"The criticism comes at a crucial time for the agency. NASA must finish the international space station before it retires the space-shuttle fleet in 2010, while at the same time developing new spacecraft that can go to the moon and possibly Mars. The pressures are proving difficult to manage."

"The report and the hearing come two days after an announcement that more than 8,000 workers nationwide -- including 6,400 at Kennedy Space Center -- could lose their jobs when the shuttle era ends."

"Several lawmakers have attacked NASA for not planning the transition better. Of particular concern is the five-year gap between the retirement of the shuttle and the first planned Ares launch in 2015. During that time, NASA will have to pay Russia to launch American astronauts to the space station."

"Doubts over the viability of Ares and Orion, which are the two major components of the Constellation program, add to concerns by NASA supporters that the president who takes office in January could gut or abandon the project. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the leading Democratic candidate, has already questioned the need to keep the moon-rocket program on track."

No comments: