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Commercial Space Launch Insurance: Weakness in FAA's Insurance Calculation May Expose the Federal Government to Excess Risk
GAO-17-366: Published: Mar 23, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 2017.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revised its method for calculating insurance requirements to address some known weaknesses. FAA is the part of the Department of Transportation that determines the amount of insurance that commercial space launch companies must purchase to cover damages from accidents that harm third parties—that is, the uninvolved public—or federal property and pe...
Electricity: Status of Residential Deployment of Solar and Other Technologies and Potential Benefits and Challenges
GAO-17-142: Published: Feb 13, 2017. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 2017.
Federal and state policymakers have used a range of policies to encourage the deployment of solar systems and other technologies that allow residential customers to generate, store, and manage their electricity consumption. For example, federal tax incentives—such as the investment tax credit—have reduced customers' up-front costs of installing solar systems. In addition, a Department of Energ...
NASA Commercial Crew Program: Schedule Pressure Increases as Contractors Delay Key Events
GAO-17-137: Published: Feb 16, 2017. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 2017.
Both of the Commercial Crew Program's contractors have made progress developing their crew transportation systems, but both also have aggressive development schedules that are increasingly under pressure. The two contractors—Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies, Corp. (SpaceX)—are developing transportation systems that must meet the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) s...
James Webb Space Telescope: Project Meeting Cost and Schedule Commitments but Continues to Use Reserves to Address Challenges
GAO-17-71: Published: Dec 7, 2016. Publicly Released: Dec 7, 2016.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project is still operating within its committed schedule while in its riskiest phase of development, integration and test. Most hardware deliveries and two of five major integration and test efforts have been completed. Two other integration and test efforts are underway, with the final effort to begin in...
Commercial Space: FAA Should Examine How to Appropriately Regulate Space Support Vehicles
GAO-17-100: Published: Nov 25, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 25, 2016.
Company officials GAO interviewed identified potential uses for “space support vehicles”—which include a variety of aircraft from high-performance jets to balloons and the aircraft portion of a hybrid launch systems (a vehicle that contains elements of both an aircraft and a rocket-powered launch vehicle)—but the size of the market for these uses is unclear. Company officials said they pla...
Commercial Space Launch Insurance: Views Differ on Need for Change to Insurance Approach but Clarification Is Needed
GAO-17-88: Published: Nov 22, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 2016.
Of the 10 spaceport operators (entities that host launches from their property) that are currently licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 3 have had commercial activity in the last 5 years, and all 3 told GAO that they have both property and liability coverage to protect themselves from losses resulting from space launch mishaps. Federal laws and regulations do not require spacepor...
Global Positioning System: Observations on Quarterly Reports from the Air Force
GAO-17-162R: Published: Oct 17, 2016. Publicly Released: Oct 17, 2016.
The Air Force’s first Global Positioning System (GPS) quarterly report provided important information on some of the programs’ efforts and details about its full and long-term cost, schedule, performance, testing, and risk. The report included individual program schedules and costs for some programs. However, it did not include an integrated master schedule—key information needed to demonstr...
Environmental Satellites: NOAA Needs to Ensure Its Timelines Are Accurate, Clear, and Fully Documented
GAO-16-767: Published: Sep 8, 2016. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 2016.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) process for updating its flyout charts involves obtaining updated information on the health of operational satellites and schedules for new satellites, having relevant individuals review the updated charts, and obtaining approval from a senior NOAA official to publish the charts. This process is partially documented in a 2011 draft polic...
Defense Space Acquisitions: Too Early to Determine If Recent Changes Will Resolve Persistent Fragmentation in Management and Oversight
GAO-16-592R: Published: Jul 27, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 27, 2016.
National security space leadership responsibilities are fragmented across approximately 60 stakeholder organizations within the Department of Defense (DOD), the Executive Office of the President, the Intelligence Community, and civilian agencies. Officials and experts generally said that no one seems to be in charge of space acquisitions. According to officials and experts, DOD space acquisitions...
NASA Human Space Exploration: Opportunity Nears to Reassess Launch Vehicle and Ground Systems Cost and Schedule
GAO-16-612: Published: Jul 27, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 27, 2016.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) new launch vehicle, the Space Launch System (SLS), has resolved some technical issues and matured its design since GAO's July 2015 report, but pressure remains on the program's limited cost and schedule reserves. This pressure, in turn, threatens its committed November 2018 launch readiness goal. The program has made progress in resolving...