Causes and Impacts of Cutbacks to NASA's Outer Solar System Exploration Missions
NSIAD-94-24: Published: Dec 29, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 2, 1994.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby (CRAF)/Cassini Program, focusing on the: (1) factors that led to the cancellation of the CRAF project; and (2) prospects for continuation of the Cassini project.
GAO found that: (1) NASA has cancelled the CRAF project because of the large increase in the cost of one of its experiments, the deletion of some project experiments, and budget reductions that extended its launch schedule and significantly increased its costs; (2) NASA believes that its future budgets will not be sufficient to fund all of its planned and ongoing activities; (3) NASA has cancelled the CRAF project without determining whether the scope of the CRAF and Cassini projects could have been reduced to preserve both missions; (4) the CRAF cancellation has reduced NASA costs by 19.2 percent; (5) NASA has lost some foreign funding for spacecraft development because of the CRAF project cancellation; (6) NASA has restructured the Cassini project to reduce its costs in anticipation of future budget shortages; (7) the restructuring includes cancelling the development of a multimission spacecraft, which lessens its scientific capabilities and postpones the development of some flight software, ground control systems, and science operations capabilities; and (8) NASA is currently meeting the Cassini project's cost and schedule goals, but several factors such as the availability of a new solid rocket motor, further cost reductions, and launch delays could adversely affect the Cassini project's future capabilities.