Author Topic: GAO Artemis report - January 2024  (Read 2381 times)

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« on: 01/17/2024 03:14 pm »
https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-24-107249

Quote
NASA Artemis Programs:
Lunar Landing Plans Are Progressing but Challenges Remain


GAO-24-107249
Published: Jan 17, 2024. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 2024.
   
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Fast Facts

NASA is making progress on its Artemis missions, including Artemis III, which will eventually land humans on the moon for the first time since 1972.

We testified that:

NASA has made progress on its test flights, including launching Artemis I in 2022

Our prior work showed that Artemis III was unlikely to occur in 2025, and NASA recently adjusted the launch date to 2026

NASA hasn't established an official cost estimate for Artemis III, so full mission costs aren't transparent

NASA faces challenges managing its largest projectsóincluding the ones related to the Artemis missions.

Our prior recommendations are to help NASA manage its projects.

Highlights

What GAO Found

NASA has made progress demonstrating key capabilities needed to support its Artemis missions:

Artemis I, an uncrewed test flight, successfully launched in November 2022, which demonstrated the initial capability of the Space Launch System and Exploration Ground Systems.

For Artemis II, the first flight with crew, NASA is currently conducting integration and testing of the crew capsule and the launch pad.

NASA and its contractors continue to make progress on technologies supporting Artemis III, the first crewed lunar landing mission. For example, the human landing system contractor has conducted two test flights of its human landing system.

Despite this progress, NASA still faces several challenges:

Ambitious schedules. In November 2023 (GAO-24-106256), GAO found that the Artemis III lunar landing was unlikely to occur in December 2025, as planned, given delays and remaining technical work. In January 2024, NASA adjusted the launch date to September 2026 to allow contractors time to complete a significant amount of remaining complex work.

Artemis III mission cost. In December 2019 (GAO-20-68), GAO found that NASA did not plan to establish an official cost estimate for this mission. NASA concurred with a GAO recommendation to establish one but has not yet done so. While NASA requested $6.8 billion to support Artemis III programs in its fiscal year 2024 budget request, decision-makers have limited knowledge into the full scope of Artemis III mission costs.

Acquisition management. NASA's largest, most complex projects, including those that support the Artemis missions, continue to shape the agency's portfolio. When these projects exceed their cost baselines and require cost reserves to meet their funding needs, it has a cascading effect on other projects. NASA officials are exploring ways to better manage this project cost and schedule growth.

Why GAO Did This Study

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is committing billions of dollars to return humans to the lunar surface and initiate human exploration of Mars. The missions, known collectively as Artemis, involve the development and integration of multiple systems and programs.

This testimony focuses on NASA's progress toward achieving the Artemis missions, as well as the challenges the agency faces in conducting them. This statement is based on past GAO reports on the Artemis enterprise and our annual assessment of NASA's major projects.

Recommendations

GAO has made numerous recommendations to reduce NASA's acquisition risk and improve NASA's management of its portfolio of major projects, which includes projects supporting the Artemis missions. NASA has generally agreed with the recommendations and implemented changes in response to many of them. However, it needs to take additional actions to fully address all of them.

As of May 2023, GAO identified six open recommendations related to Artemis as being a priority for implementation. For example, NASA concurred with our December 2019 recommendation to create a life-cycle cost estimate for the Artemis III mission but has not yet implemented it.

Online VSECOTSPE

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #1 on: 01/17/2024 03:31 pm »

Jeez, Louise... from the report.... $20-30 billion with a ďbĒ for Artemis III!?!?!...

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Artemis III mission costs. In December 2019, we found that NASA estimated that Artemis III may cost between $20 billion and $30 billion [emphasis added]... in February 2023, NASA officials stated that they are developing a methodology to provide Congress with an assessment of costs for each Artemis mission. NASA officials stated that the mission estimates will include the cost of hardware production, integration costs, and operations costs, but did they not provide a time frame for when this would be completed.

Iím very curious how that estimate breaks down.  Iím not sure the initial Lunar Starship contract and the suit contract added together exceed $2B.  NASA must be counting most/all Orion/SLS/EGS spending between Artemis II and Artemis III against Artemis III.  But unless theyíre half a decade apart, I still donít see how that adds up to $18-28B.  Lawdy...

And of course thereís still no official number on how much an SLS costs to produce (forget launch)...

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ē SLS production costs. In September 2023, we found that NASA does not plan to measure production costs for the SLS program.12 Since SLSís first launch for Artemis I in November 2022, NASA plans to spend billions of dollars to continue producing multiple SLS componentsósuch as core stages and rocket enginesóneeded for future Artemis missions. These ongoing production costs are not captured in a cost baseline, which limits transparency and efforts to monitor the programís long-term affordability. This is important because the production and other costs for the SLS program account for more than one-third of NASAís budget request for programs required to return to the moon. For example, in the Presidentís budget submission for fiscal year 2024, NASA requested $6.8 billion for the five programs that will be required for Artemis III. The SLS program accounted for about $2.5 billion, or 37 percent of that request.

What a way to run the nationís flagship civil space program...

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #2 on: 01/17/2024 03:50 pm »
Jeez, Louise... from the report.... $20-30 billion with a ďbĒ for Artemis III!?!?!...
I hope you be able to recover from the shock, acquire the actual report,  and do your usual excellent analysis?

I'm stunned. It's hard to see how they get to even $20 billion for one mission unless they load everything into it. That would include the entire $2.9B for Starship HLS, which includes the uncrewed demo. Maybe Gateway is back in Artemis III now?

Offline cplchanb

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #3 on: 01/17/2024 04:43 pm »
Jeez, Louise... from the report.... $20-30 billion with a ďbĒ for Artemis III!?!?!...
I hope you be able to recover from the shock, acquire the actual report,  and do your usual excellent analysis?

I'm stunned. It's hard to see how they get to even $20 billion for one mission unless they load everything into it. That would include the entire $2.9B for Starship HLS, which includes the uncrewed demo. Maybe Gateway is back in Artemis III now?

or there could be a super secret program add on that noone knows about... aliens on the far side of the moon? Deep Impact 1997 type spending??  ::)

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #4 on: 01/17/2024 08:37 pm »
Jeez, Louise... from the report.... $20-30 billion with a ďbĒ for Artemis III!?!?!...
I hope you be able to recover from the shock, acquire the actual report,  and do your usual excellent analysis?

I'm stunned. It's hard to see how they get to even $20 billion for one mission unless they load everything into it. That would include the entire $2.9B for Starship HLS, which includes the uncrewed demo. Maybe Gateway is back in Artemis III now?

Speculated that much of the budget overrun is from the stretching out of the development and manufacturing of many components for the SLS, Orion & GSE for the Artemis III mission. Maintaining a large standing army is expensive.

Hopefully @VSECOTSPE will get over his shock and posted some insights into the Artemis budget mess.

Online yg1968

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #5 on: 01/18/2024 12:29 am »
« Last Edit: 01/18/2024 01:01 am by yg1968 »

Online yg1968

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #6 on: 01/18/2024 12:35 am »

Jeez, Louise... from the report.... $20-30 billion with a ďbĒ for Artemis III!?!?!...

Quote
Artemis III mission costs. In December 2019, we found that NASA estimated that Artemis III may cost between $20 billion and $30 billion [emphasis added]... in February 2023, NASA officials stated that they are developing a methodology to provide Congress with an assessment of costs for each Artemis mission. NASA officials stated that the mission estimates will include the cost of hardware production, integration costs, and operations costs, but did they not provide a time frame for when this would be completed.

Iím very curious how that estimate breaks down.  Iím not sure the initial Lunar Starship contract and the suit contract added together exceed $2B.  NASA must be counting most/all Orion/SLS/EGS spending between Artemis II and Artemis III against Artemis III.  But unless theyíre half a decade apart, I still donít see how that adds up to $18-28B.  Lawdy...

The $20-$30B wasn't just for Artemis III. Here is how it was explained in the 2019 GAO Report:

Quote from: page 27 of the 2019 GAO Report
The NASA Administrator made a public statement that the Artemis III mission may cost between $20 billion and $30 billion, but NASA officials told us they do not plan to develop an official cost estimate for the Artemis III mission. A senior HEOMD official said that the agency developed a cost estimate that included costs for the lunar mission to 2028 to support budget submissions. However, the official said this life-cycle cost estimate included costs outside of the Artemis III mission, such as for missions later than Artemis III, and may not include integration and overall management costs. NASA officials told us that it is complicated to separate out costs for each mission and, as a result, do not plan to develop an Artemis III cost estimate. In addition, senior NASA officials stated that many of the programs needed to execute the mission are currently in the early stages of acquisition, and therefore NASA has limited cost information.

See page 27 of the 2019 GAO Report:
https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-20-68.pdf
« Last Edit: 01/18/2024 12:37 am by yg1968 »

Online yg1968

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Online VSECOTSPE

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #8 on: 01/18/2024 02:27 am »
Thereís not much to go on, but hereís my two bits.

GAO says NASA produced the $20-30B estimate in December 2019, which is in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020.  So if the estimate was produced from budget figures, they probably would have used the FY 2020 budget request.  To the extent the Trump Administration added any funding, that budget should have incorporated the acceleration of the lunar landing goal to 2024, which was announced eight or so months earlier.

If I just add up the FY 2020 thru FY 2024 figures for Exploration Systems Development (which is Orion, SLS, and ground systems) and Exploration R&D (Gateway, whatever plug there was for a lander, other elements), I can get to $30 billion ($29.6 billion to be exact).

FY20 Req ($B)     Total         FY20          FY21          FY22          FY23          FY24

Expl Sys Dev        17.8            3.4             3.4              3.5             3.8              3.7

Expl R&D              11.8            1.6             1.9              2.0             2.9              3.4

Total                      29.6            5.0.            5.3              5.5             6.7              7.1

Although the $29.6B total matches the $20-30B estimate, I doubt thatís what they did.  I think the $20-$30B estimate comes from estimate based on CERs (cost-estimating relationships) for the elements of Artemis III.  A big error band like $20-30B feels like a CER estimate.  The HLS award to SpaceX wouldnít be made for a couple more years (2021), so I suspect they were carrying a large, inexact estimate for lander development.  I see an old Altair lander development estimate of $12B.  Add that to the $3.7-3.8B in FY23 or FY24 for EDS (Orion/SLS/EGS) and youíre at $16B, rounding up to $20B.  Add in something for suit development (the Axiom award was also still to come in 2022), fuzz it up further for unknown unknowns, and you might get a range up to $30B.

Thatís my best guess, but Iím still far from certain thatís what happened.  If Iím right, itís still very strange that NASA has not provided GAO with an updated estimate to reflect the actual $2.9B cost of HLS development (the SpaceX award for Lunar Starship) and the actual $0.3B cost of suit development (the Axiom award).  Those figures added to the $4.0B for Common Exploration Systems (the FY 2024 budget request placeholder for Orion/SLS/EGS) in FY 2026 yield $7.2B.  Thatís a much kinder figures than $20-30B that NASA would presumably want to release, which makes me think thereís something else going on.

It could be that GAO asked for, or NASA provided, an estimate of total program costs thru Artemis III, rather than just the costs associated with Artemis III, and GAO wasnít clear about that in the current report.  But anyoneís guess is as good as mine as to what year they decided to start counting those costs.

Regardless, the ESD or Common Exploration Systems figures drive the cost per mission into irrational territory.  Thereís nothing four astronauts can do for a few weeks at the Moon that is worth $20-30B or $7.2B.  Even if the suits were free and we use the $1.2B figure for the Artemis IV lander award to SpaceX, itís still $6.2B per mission.

And that $7.2B assumes Artemis III stays on schedule.  Based on the FY24 budget request, each additional year between Artemis II and Artemis III adds another $3.5B to $4.0B in Common Exploration to Artemis III.  If Artemis III goes off in 2027, then it will be $10.8B total.  If 2028, then $14.3B.

Crazy idea, but NASA needs to trade in Orion/SLS/EGS at ~$4B per mission (assuming one annual mission) for a lunar crew transport capability thatís no more than the cost of the lander.  If Lunar Starship settles in at $1.2B, that would be $2.4B, call it $2.5B with the suits.  $625M per astronaut is probably still too much to do anything useful, but at least itís not an order of magnitude more than the old STS mission cost per seat.

The $20-$30B wasn't just for Artemis III. Here is how it was explained in the 2019 GAO Report:

Quote from: page 27 of the 2019 GAO Report
The NASA Administrator made a public statement that the Artemis III mission may cost between $20 billion and $30 billion, but NASA officials told us they do not plan to develop an official cost estimate for the Artemis III mission. A senior HEOMD official said that the agency developed a cost estimate that included costs for the lunar mission to 2028 to support budget submissions. However, the official said this life-cycle cost estimate included costs outside of the Artemis III mission, such as for missions later than Artemis III, and may not include integration and overall management costs. NASA officials told us that it is complicated to separate out costs for each mission and, as a result, do not plan to develop an Artemis III cost estimate. In addition, senior NASA officials stated that many of the programs needed to execute the mission are currently in the early stages of acquisition, and therefore NASA has limited cost information.

Then GAO misportrayed what they were provided back in 2019 in the current report.  It wasnít an estimate for Artemis III, even if thatís what NASA called it.

Regardless, what a bunch of nonsense.  NASA was asked for a cost estimate for a specific mission.  So NASA included costs for future missions after that one.   But NASA did not include the integration costs for the mission in question.  Really?

And the agency still canít figure this out (or be honest about these costs) half a decade later?

What a joke...

Offline thespacecow

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #9 on: 01/18/2024 03:28 am »
Jeez, Louise... from the report.... $20-30 billion with a ďbĒ for Artemis III!?!?!...

Here's the news article about this back in 2019: https://spacenews.com/bridenstine-estimates-artemis-cost-at-20-30-billion

Basically $20-30B (in 5 years) is Jim Bridenstine's original estimate for developing a lunar lander (it's the money needed on top of existing SLS/Orion spending), of course Congress only appropriated a small fraction of that (1/4th I think), fortunately SpaceX saved the day by putting in a super low bid with HLS Starship.

The irony is some people today are not thanking SpaceX for literally saving Artemis but instead are criticizing them for bidding low and developing new tech. Unfortunately the GAO report didn't make this clear either, which I think it's a missed opportunity.

Online VSECOTSPE

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Re: GAO Artemis report - January 2024
« Reply #10 on: 01/19/2024 01:38 am »
Basically $20-30B (in 5 years) is Jim Bridenstine's original estimate for developing a lunar lander (it's the money needed on top of existing SLS/Orion spending)

If thatís where the $20-30B figure for Artemis III comes from, then itís misleading for GAO to say so (at least not without some explanation).  But whatís worse is that NASAís refusal to/slow-boating of/inability to produce estimates for Artemis, its missions, and/or Orion/SLS/EGS just leaves the program open to inaccurate or unfair critiques.  Itís been nearly a half-decade.  Thereís no excuse by now for NASA not to have provided GAO with better estimates than a ROM with a 50% error bar that a former Administrator with no cost-estimating experience came up with off the cuff.  Artemis wonít be terminated or even cut at this point because of this issue.  But HSF programs that donít get their costs under control ó and planning estimates are the first step ó eventually pay the price.  Ask Constellation.  Ask ISS.

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