GAO finds risks in NASA program

April 3, 2008

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says it's found major risks to the successful development of NASA's replacement for the space shuttle.

The GAO, Congress' investigative arm, examined two components of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Constellation Program that's designed to send humans to the moon and Mars: the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, and the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.

NASA is scheduled to launch the program during 2015, five years after the Space Shuttle's last mission.

The GAO said it found Ares I, which will have a solid rocket booster for its first stage and a liquid-fueled second stage, risks excessive vibration during launch and excessive weight. The GAO also said it's not known how the fifth segment of the solid rocket's first stage will affect the vehicle's flight characteristics.

Federal investigators also reported existing NASA facilities are inadequate to test the new engine.

Additionally, they said the heat shield needed to allow the Orion vehicles to safely re-enter Earth's atmosphere is beyond the capabilities of current manufacturing processes.

The GAO concluded the space agency's capacity to meet production and budget goals is uncertain, partly because NASA is still defining many of the vehicles' performance requirements.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Explore further: GAO investigators say DNA tests give bogus results

Related Stories

GAO investigators say DNA tests give bogus results

July 25, 2010

A government investigator told members of Congress on Thursday that personalized DNA tests claiming to predict certain inheritable diseases are misleading and offer little or no useful information.

New white paper showcases the future of space robotics

July 22, 2016

Autonomous robots capable of walking, swimming and climbing, will replicate insects, birds, animals and even humans on future missions of space exploration within decades, according to a new UK-RAS Network white paper led ...

Funding challenges for Orion and SLS

December 22, 2014

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of Congress, which exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ...

Recommended for you

Mars Curiosity celebrates sol 2,000

March 23, 2018

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover just hit a new milestone: its two-thousandth Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet. An image mosaic taken by the rover in January offers a preview of what comes next.

Radio nebula discovered around the pulsar PSR J0855–4644

March 21, 2018

Using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India, an international team of astronomers has detected a diffuse radio emission forming a nebula around the pulsar PSR J0855–4644. The finding is reported March 9 ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Apr 04, 2008
Can NASA do anything right?
5 / 5 (1) Apr 04, 2008
The GAO "discovered" these problems months after NASA reported these may be problems from their modeling

Just piss away more of my tax dollars, please
not rated yet Apr 09, 2008
Or we could use wagons. They're pretty safe.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.