Military Space Programs:

An Unclassified Overview of Defense Satellite Programs and Launch Activities

NSIAD-90-154FS: Published: Jun 29, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Department of Defense's (DOD) satellite program plans, focusing on the relationships between and cost of DOD satellites, launch vehicles, and launch facilities.

GAO found that: (1) DOD satellites perform a wide variety of missions to support U.S. national security interests and pursue advances in research and technology; (2) due to launch failures, DOD changed its launch vehicle strategy by using a variety of expendable launch vehicles (ELV) to perform more than 90 percent of its satellite launches; (3) to meet most of its ELV requirements for the next 15 years, DOD was acquiring and planned to launch ELV in several classes of lift capacity; (4) DOD was pursuing joint technology development programs with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for an Advanced Launch System and a National Aerospace Plane; (5) DOD launches satellites on ELV from 5 locations; and (6) as of October 1989, DOD estimated total fiscal year (FY) 1990 space-related program costs at about $18 billion, and projected total space-related program costs to increase to about $23 billion by FY 1994. GAO also provided information on: (1) the mission, requirements, program status, unit costs, schedules, launch vehicles, and launch facilities for current and planned DOD satellites; (2) launch vehicles, their schedules, and their relationship to DOD satellites and launch facilities; (3) 3 NASA facilities' launch capabilities and schedules; and (4) space-related program costs DOD used to develop its estimates.

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