Boeing is currently designing a huge rocket that is meant to send humans to the moon and farther, but according to some new information from NASA’s inspector general, there have been some development problems that in fact doubled the price tag of the program. This could also delay an eventual launch.
The ongoing issues will dramatically affect the amount spent on the Space Launch System
Based on the inspector general’s report, NASA’s Space Launch System has been afflicted by “management, technical and infrastructure issues” which were caused by the poor performance of Boeing. The audit estimated that NASA will need to spend probably more than $8.9 billion on SLS until 2021. This huge amount of money is double of what was planned at the beginning. From what we know at the moment, the vehicle will not be ready to fly in June 2020, which was the initial target, but instead will have to launch at a much later date. The new report also raises doubts about the final product’s sustainability.
These issues may impact other companies as well
However, even though Boeing is the company that receives the most intense criticism in the audit, there are more contractors with exposure to the program. Therefore, this could also have an impact on others that have the same objectives, such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The review blamed Boeing for not having enough staffing, as well as for having an unsuitable assembly of factory tools, amongst other problems. William Gerstenmaier, a NASA official, said in a statement that the audit was “a fair assessment”. Nevertheless, he added that the development of the system is incredibly complex and everything that is being done is in fact a national investment in the exploration of deep space in the long term. Even though this audit is new, there is some criticism that is not, with people wondering if such an expensive project can be justified. We’ll just need to wait to see what happens next.