Space Transportation:

NASA Has No Firm Need for Increasingly Costly Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle

NSIAD-90-192: Published: Jul 31, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (OMV) program, focusing on: (1) the need to continue the OMV program in light of reductions in OMV capabilities; and (2) the reasons for changes in OMV program costs and schedules.

GAO found that: (1) the OMV conceptual design has evolved over a number of years; (2) NASA estimated that OMV development would cost $736.5 million; (3) through fiscal year (FY) 1990, Congress appropriated $245.6 million, and NASA requested $85.4 million for OMV in its FY 1991 budget; (4) NASA does not need OMV to accomplish the primary missions for which it was designed; (5) in 1989, NASA restructured the OMV program to contain costs, and reduced or eliminated many planned OMV capabilities; (6) NASA has not yet decided to undertake any of the missions it has identified as potential applications for OMV; (7) OMV costs will likely continue to rise, especially if NASA is to make maximum use of the vehicle; (8) NASA is considering purchasing an additional vehicle, restoring capabilities, and modifying OMV to make it compatible with expendable launch vehicles; and (9) because of uncertainty about when and for what purposes OMV would be used, NASA has not prepared a comprehensive estimate of OMV operations costs.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Congress should deny the $85.4 million requested for OMV development in FY 1991, less any amount needed for termination expenses. According to a preliminary NASA estimate, about $33.2 million of FY 1991 funding will be needed for termination.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress denied the entire $85.4 million requested.

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