Portal Ars Technica, citing NASA Inspector General Paul Martin reported on the problems in the construction of the launch complex for the rocket Space Launch System. The total project cost of Mobile Launcher 1 was not less than 927 million. Work continues for about 10 years.
Originally on Mobile Launcher 1 spent 234 million dollars. – then it was a mobile system for launch vehicle Ares I. In 2010 project “Ares-1” was canceled, and the installation decided to rebuild the SLS. These works demanded 54 million dollars. The actual cost of the modernization reached 693 million. For the money, NASA had received the new missiles.
According to the report of the inspector general, the blame for the rise in the cost of the works rests with the contractor Vencore. In the preparation of the work of NASA and “Vencor” signed an agreement about additional expenses, which included the development of ground equipment launch complex. The contract began in 2011 and continued until 2017.
As established by the Inspector General, NASA has taken untested project contractors and quickly signed contracts for the purchase and delivery. NASA officials said that in some cases, knew about the unwillingness of the projects, but promote them because of the need to perform common graphics program construction.
Such actions of the customer and the contractor caused delays and required numerous alterations. All of this eventually led to the stretching of work for 10 years and total spending of more than 900 million.
NASA did not use the mechanisms of penalties for poor performance under the contract with “Vencor”. The responsible person interviewed by the inspector indicated that they were aware of the problems, but believed that the contractor will do their job. The work of the company Vencore has received the rating of “good” and “excellent” – despite the schedule delay and unacceptable cost increase.
To Ars Technica believe that such a situation exists not only with the modernization of the complex Mobile Launcher-1 but with the SLS project as a whole. Critics of the project point out that his aim, apparently, is the creation of new jobs in space command and Boeing. The development of rocket and space technology and obtaining new results, in this case, depart on the second plan.
The Inspector-General in his report tend to agree with this point of view. It also confirms the fact that the first flight of SLS was initially planned for 2017, but now it is shifted to 2021-th.
The backdrop for these messages is the work on a new launch complex – mobile apparatus for the SLS Block 1B missile, a larger and heavy. The contract for the performance of such work costing $ 383 million.in 2019, Bechtel received the company. Construction should be completed by March 2023. Thus, they plan to spend three times less money and half as much time on Mobile Launcher-2 than on the first complex.
In the light of the Inspector General’s latest report, such plans look overly optimistic. Recall that the SLS program is one of NASA’s main and most complex developments of recent decades. The development of the launch rocket line began in 2011, and the first launch is scheduled for the 2021st. At the beginning of 2023, the first flight with the Orion manned spacecraft will take place, moreover, we are talking immediately about the moon overflight.
For the first launch of the LSL rocket, the Mobile Launcher-1 launcher is required. Subsequent missions will be carried out using the Mobile Launcher-2 under construction. So far, contractors have enough time to complete the work.
Since its launch, SLS has been subjected to all kinds of criticism. One of the most popular topics is cost. To date, about $ 15 billion has been spent, and work has not yet been completed. NASA is also accused of launching an inappropriate and expensive project to support Boeing. The latter in this case has to face competition in the launch market.