The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket designed to transport astronauts to the Moon is significantly over budget and significantly behind schedule, according to the latest audit by NASA’s inspector general. NASA is expected to spend $93 billion on the Artemis Moon Program by 2025, including the $23.8 billion already expended on the SLS system through 2022. According to the report, this amount represents “$6 billion in cost increases and over six years in schedule delays above NASA’s original projections.”
Integration of older NASA technology with newer systems has been an issue. “These increases are the result of interrelated factors, such as the assumption that the use of legacy technologies would result in significant cost and schedule savings when compared to the development of new systems for the SLS,” the audit states. However, the complexity of developing, updating, and integrating new systems with legacy components was significantly higher than anticipated.
The Artemis Moon mission proposal was founded on the 2005-launched Constellation program, which aimed to return to the Moon by 2020. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 mandated the construction of the SLS and the repurposing of Constellation’s extant technology, contracts, and workforce following its cancellation.