Space Station:

U.S. Life-Cycle Funding Requirements

T-NSIAD-98-212: Published: Jun 24, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 1998.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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GAO discussed U.S. funding requirements for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) International Space Station program, focusing on the station's development, assembly, and operation costs. GAO also: (1) compared the current cost estimate with the estimate in its June 1995 report; and (2) provided information on potential cost increases, current program reserves, the prime contractor's cost and schedule performance, and the impact of recent revisions to the assembly sequence.

GAO noted that: (1) based on NASA data and GAO's analysis, it estimated that the U.S. cost to develop, assemble, and operate the space station has increased to almost $96 billion; (2) further, GAO identified a number of program changes that could significantly increase this estimate, such as the potential for additional schedule slippage and the need for shuttle launches to test and deliver the crew return vehicle; (3) as GAO has reported previously, it continues to be concerned about the adequacy of program reserves to deal with changing program needs; (4) over three years ago, the space station program had more than $3 billion in financial reserves to cover development contingencies; (5) in March 1998, with almost 6 years until completion, the net unencumbered financial reserves were down to about $1.1 billion; (6) after GAO completed its work and issued its May 1998 report, NASA and its international partners revised the station assembly sequence again, resulting in further schedule slippage and one additional shuttle flight; and (7) additional costs will be incurred as a result of these changes.

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