NASA: Long-Term Commitment to and Investment in Space Exploration Program Requires More Knowledge

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to spend nearly $230 billion over the next two decades implementing the Vision for Space Exploration. In January 2006, NASA publicly released its Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), which is an effort to identify the best architecture and strategy to implement the President's 2004 Vision for Space Exploration (Vision). The cost estimate for implementing the ESAS through fiscal year 2011 exceeds $31 billion. The estimate through fiscal year 2018 is over $122 billion, and the estimate through fiscal year 2025 ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. July 17, 2006.

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to spend nearly $230 billion over the next two decades implementing the Vision for Space Exploration. In January 2006, NASA publicly released its Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), which is an effort to identify the best architecture and strategy to implement the President's 2004 Vision for Space Exploration (Vision). The cost estimate for implementing the ESAS through fiscal year 2011 exceeds $31 billion. The estimate through fiscal year 2018 is over $122 billion, and the estimate through fiscal year 2025 is nearly $230 billion. These estimates include the architecture, robotic precursor missions, supporting technologies, and funding needed to service the International Space Station (ISS). NASA plans to implement this architecture through a "go as you can afford to pay" approach, wherein lower-priority efforts would be deferred, descoped, or discontinued to allow NASA to stay within its available budget profile. This approach assumes NASA's budget will increase moderately to keep pace with inflation. Given the long-term fiscal imbalances that will challenge the entire federal government now and in the future, it would be prudent for NASA to establish a program that reduces the risk that significant additional funding, beyond moderate increases for inflation, will be required to execute the program. Government leaders will have to make difficult decisions to resolve such challenges, and the debate over the potential cost and the federal government's role in implementing the Vision are emblematic of the challenges the nation will need to resolve in the years ahead. Because of the significance of this investment, competing demands on the federal discretionary budget, and the importance of the success of NASA's exploration program to the future of U.S. human spaceflight, Congress requested that GAO assess (1) the extent to which NASA has identified the architecture and costs necessary to implement the Vision, (2) whether NASA's exploration architecture cost estimates fit within the agency's projected available budgets, and (3) the risks associated with NASA's acquisition strategy for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) project."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • July 17, 2006

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. NASA: Long-Term Commitment to and Investment in Space Exploration Program Requires More Knowledge, text, July 17, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc300019/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.