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November 25, 2008 Vol. 1, Issue 11


A number of risks could increase the currently projected five-year gap in U.S. human space flight, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office.

As NASA moves toward the planned retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2010, it faces a five-year gap before the Ares 1 and Orion crew vehicles are scheduled to achieve initial operating capability. In an analysis of NASA’s plans and projections, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has determined that the gap might increase if:

  • NASA cannot avoid the risks to the successful completion of those projects that it and others (in particular, the Government Accountability Office, or GAO) have identified in the Constellation Program.
  • delays consistent with past space shuttle missions occurred in launching the remaining missions needed to complete construction of the International Space Station

CBO also concluded that NASA’s decision to accommodate the $577 million reduction in its 2007 funding by forgoing robotic surface exploration of the moon has the potential to delay the launch of the Constellation Program’s first human lunar missions beyond 2020.

Read the CBO report.

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