Space Station:

Estimated Total U.S. Funding Requirements

NSIAD-95-163: Published: Jun 12, 1995. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the current estimated costs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) space station program, focusing on: (1) the program's total U.S. funding requirements; and (2) specific program uncertainties that may affect those requirements.

GAO found that: (1) the amount of U.S. funds it estimates are required to design, launch, and operate the International Space Station will total about $94 billion through 2012, about $77 billion in fiscal year (FY) 1995 constant dollars, which may decrease to the extent that NASA accomplishes its goal for achieving station operational efficiencies over the period 2003 to 2012, or that efficiencies currently being studied in the space shuttle program materialize; (2) the program has made progress in defining its requirements, meeting scheduled milestones, and remaining within its annual operating budgets, but it faces challenges in completing all its tasks on schedule and within budget; (3) program estimates through FY 1997 show limited annual financial reserves, about 6 to 11 percent of estimated costs, which are even lower when reduced by the estimated value of pending items that have a medium to high probability of being added to the program; (4) inadequate reserves would hinder program managers' ability to cope with unanticipated technical problems and, if a problem could not be covered by available reserves, program managers could be faced with either spending more than planned on the program or deferring or rephasing other activities, thus possibly delaying the space station's development schedule or increasing its future cost; (5) the space station's current launch and assembly schedule is ambitious, and the shuttle program may have difficulty supporting it; (6) the prime contract target cost could increase if the contractor is unable to negotiate subcontractor agreements for the expected price; and (7) NASA plans to complete an independent internal assessment of space station program costs later in FY 1995.

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