The Morning After: NASA's SLS rocket is already $6 billion over budget

'Additional cost and schedule increases' are likely as well.

Joe Skipper / reuters

According to the latest audit from NASA's inspector general, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket designed to take astronauts to the Moon is substantially over budget and far behind schedule. NASA's spending on the Artemis Moon Program is expected to reach $93 billion by 2025, including the $23.8 billion already spent on the SLS system through 2022. That sum represents "$6 billion in cost increases and over six years in schedule delays above NASA’s original projections," says the report.

One of the issues has been integrating older NASA technology with newer systems. "These increases are caused by interrelated issues such as assumptions that the use of heritage technologies… were expected to result in significant cost and schedule savings compared to developing new systems for the SLS," the audit states. "However, the complexity of developing, updating and integrating new systems along with heritage components proved to be much greater than anticipated."

The Artemis Moon mission project was based on the Constellation program, launched in 2005 with the goal of returning to the Moon by 2020. Following its cancellation, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 mandated construction of the SLS and required the repurposing of existing technology, contracts and workforce from Constellation.

– Mat Smith

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