Credit: NASA


NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released today a report: NASA’s Management of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Program.

Among the findings, the OIG found that Orion has continued to experience cost increases and schedule delays.  Since the cost and schedule baseline was set in 2015, the program has experienced over $900 million in cost growth through 2019, a figure expected to rise to at least $1.4 billion through 2023.

Ambitious goal

Since 2006, NASA has been developing the Orion Multi‐Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion) to transport astronauts beyond low Earth orbit.  With the announcement of the Artemis Program in May 2019, NASA set the ambitious goal of using Orion to return humans to the Moon by 2024.  As of July 2020 Orion has flown three test flights but none with astronauts on board.

The OIG also found that NASA’s exclusion of more than $17 billion in Orion‐related costs has hindered the overall transparency of the vehicle’s complete costs.  Both federal law and NASA policy call for a Life Cycle Cost estimate for all major science and space programs costing more than $250 million, and for the Agency Baseline Commitment (ABC) to be based on all formulation and development costs. 

Artist rendering of Lockheed Martin-built Orion spacecraft in deep space.
Credit: Lockheed Martin


Tailored approach

The Orion Program received approval from the NASA Associate Administrator, the OIG reports notes, to deviate from those requirements, resulting in exclusion of $17.5 billion in Orion‐related costs from fiscal year (FY) 2006 to FY 2030 due to the Agency’s tailored approach to program management and cost reporting. 

Although these exclusions have been approved, the tailoring of these cost reporting requirements significantly limits visibility into the total amount spent on development and production efforts.

To read the full report — NASA’s Management of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Program – go to:

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