Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, “NASA Lunar Programs: Significant Work Remains, Underscoring Challenges to Achieving Moon Landing in 2024”.
The report was the result of an Appropriations request for GAO work on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) lunar programs. NASA has initiated eight programs as part of its goal of returning humans to the surface of the Moon by 2024. The report evaluated NASA’s progress on its lunar programs, including the goal for a human landing in 2024, and its challenges in managing the programs.
“The GAO report released today should serve as a clear wake-up call both to NASA’s leadership and to Members of Congress that NASA’s Artemis Moon-Mars initiative is in serious trouble, and strong corrective actions will be needed if it is to succeed, “said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “It is particularly sobering that the problems highlighted by the GAO team are not primarily budgetary in nature, but reflect organizational weaknesses, reliance on immature technologies, an unrealistic timetable and acquisition approach, and lack of commitment to a rigorous systems engineering & integration capability, among other concerns. I urge Administrator Nelson to carry out an independent review of the entire Artemis initiative as soon as possible so that he can determine what will be needed to put this important national undertaking on an executable path. I want to see NASA get the resources it will need to carry out a successful Moon-Mars initiative, but Administrator Nelson first needs to take all necessary steps to identify and address the problems afflicting Artemis and develop an executable Moon-Mars plan, or we will not just be wasting money—we will be putting our astronauts and our nation’s standing at risk.”
“The Moon to Mars Artemis initiative enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress, and that Congressional support comes with the responsibility to ensure that this highly important national effort is carried out based on well-established management and technical processes,” said Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “Today’s GAO report raises questions about NASA’s current approach to managing Artemis. A national endeavor as critical as Artemis requires clear roles and responsibilities, defined management tools, cost and schedule oversight, and an organization focused on mission success. GAO’s report identifies the need for improvement in these areas in order to avoid further delays and costs, and to ensure a successful outcome. I want America to lead an international effort to land humans on the Moon in preparation for Mars and to do so as expeditiously and safely as possible. I look forward to working with Administrator Nelson and the Biden Administration on taking the necessary steps to put Moon to Mars on a path to success.”