NASA will spend nearly $1 billion on a mobile launch platform for the Space Launch System that will be used for no more than four launches, a NASA report released March 17 revealed.
The cost of NASA’s Space Launch System has grown to the point where the agency must notify Congress and perform a formal reassessment of the program, NASA’s inspector general concluded in a March 10 report.
A top NASA official said Feb. 28 he expects the first flight of the Space Launch System to take place in the second half of 2021, a later date than prior agency statements.
As NASA marked the completion of the core stage of the first Space Launch System rocket, the agency and the rocket’s prime contractor are in the midst of negotiations for a long-term production contract for additional vehicles.
The new head of NASA’s human spaceflight programs affirmed his support for the Space Launch System Dec. 3, saying the long-delayed heavy-lift rocket is “absolutely mandatory” for returning humans to the moon.
While NASA continues to wait to set a new official date for the first launch of its Space Launch System, an agency official said Oct. 10 that the launch could slip as late as the middle of 2021.
A Senate appropriations subcommittee approved a spending bill Sept. 24 that would provide $22.75 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2020, including much, but not all, of what the agency sought in additional funding for the Artemis program.
Members of a House committee expressed skepticism about NASA’s reliance on commercial launch vehicles to carry out human lunar landings by 2024 rather than an upgraded version of the Space Launch System.
Members of a NASA safety panel praised the agency for moving ahead quickly with aspects of its Artemis program to return humans to the moon, but warned about perceptions of a leadership vacuum for that effort.
NASA is soliciting proposals to fly cubesats on the second flight of its Space Launch System, even as those cubesats chosen for the first SLS launch patiently await their ride.
The chairman of a key Senate committee said he’s “troubled” by cost and schedule growth on major NASA programs and is asking the agency for more information on their status.