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June 2, 2003:

The Honorable Jerry Lewis:

Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense:

Committee on Appropriations:

House of Representatives:

Subject: Military Space Operations: Common Problems and Their Effects 
on Satellite and Related Acquisitions:

Dear Mr. Chairman:

In fiscal year 2003, the Department of Defense expects to spend more 
than $18 billion to develop, acquire, and operate satellites and other 
space-related systems. Satellite systems collect information on the 
capabilities and intentions of potential adversaries. They enable 
military forces to be warned of a missile attack and to communicate and 
navigate while avoiding hostile action. And they provide information 
that allows forces to precisely attack targets in ways that minimize 
collateral damage and loss of life. DOD's satellites also enable global 
communications, television broadcasts, weather forecasting; navigation 
of ships, planes, trucks, and cars; and synchronization of computers, 
communications, and electric power grids.

You requested that we review reports we issued on satellite and other 
space-related programs over the past two decades and identify common 
problems affecting these programs. In addition to analyzing past 
reports, we interviewed Air Force space acquisition officials and 
reviewed past DOD studies as well as DOD's selected acquisition reports 
to the Congress. As agreed with your office, given the short timeframe 
of this assignment, we did not thoroughly assess underlying causes of 
problems identified or the effectiveness of actions being taken to 
address these problems. However, we plan to do so as part of a follow-
on study. To the extent possible, we looked at the current status of 
programs we reviewed. However, because we principally relied on past 
GAO and DOD reports, some recent changes in status and cost may not be 
reflected. We conducted our review from April 2003 through May 2003 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.


The majority of satellite programs cost more than expected and took 
longer to develop and launch than planned. In reviewing our past 
reports, we found that these results were commonly tied to the 
following problems.

Requirements for what the satellite needed to do and how well it must 
perform were not adequately defined at the beginning of a program or 
were changed significantly once the program had already begun.

Investment practices were weak. For example, potentially more cost-
effective approaches were not examined and cost estimates were 

Acquisition strategies were poorly executed. For example, competition 
was reduced for the sake of schedule or DOD did not adequately oversee 

Technologies were not mature enough to be included in product 

Several factors contributed to these problems. First, DOD often took a 
schedule-driven instead of a knowledge-driven approach to the 
acquisition process. As a result, activities essential to containing 
costs, maximizing competition among contractors and testing 
technologies were compressed or not done. Second, there is a diverse 
array of organizations with competing interests involved in overall 
satellite development--from the individual military services, to 
testing organizations, contractors, civilian agencies, and in some 
cases international partners. This created challenges in making tough 
tradeoff decisions, particularly since, for many years, there was no 
high-level official within the Office of the Secretary of Defense 
dedicated to developing and enforcing an overall investment strategy 
for space. Third, space acquisition programs have historically 
attempted to satisfy all requirements in a single step, regardless of 
the design challenge or the maturity of technologies to achieve the 
full capability. This approach made it difficult to match requirements 
to available resources (in terms of time, money, and technology).

Other factors also created challenges for the satellite acquisition 
programs we reviewed. These include a shrinking industrial base, a 
declining space workforce, difficulties associated with testing 
satellites in a realistic environment, as well as challenges associated 
with launching satellites.

DOD has studied problems affecting its satellite acquisitions and is 
undertaking efforts to address these problems. We plan to evaluate 
these efforts in a subsequent review. Therefore, we are not making 
recommendations in this report.


DOD's current space network is comprised of constellations of 
satellites, ground-based systems, and associated terminals and 
receivers. Among other things, these assets are used to perform 
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions; perform 
missile warning; provide communication services to DOD and other 
government users; provide weather and environmental data; and provide 
positioning and precise timing data to U.S. forces as well as national 
security, civil, and commercial users. Table 1 identifies specific 
satellite systems used for these purposes. Appendix I describes these 
systems in more detail.

Table 1: Current and Planned Satellite Systems:

[See PDF for image]

[End of table]

All of these systems are playing an increasingly important role in 
military operations. According to DOD officials, for example, in 
Operation Iraqi Freedom, approximately 70 percent of weapons were 
precision-guided, most of those utilizing GPS capabilities. Weather 
satellites enabled warfighters to not only prepare for, but also to 
take advantage of blinding sandstorms. Communications and intelligence 
satellites were also heavily used to plan and carry out attacks and to 
assess post-strike damage.

Some of DOD's satellite systems--such as GPS--have also grown into 
international use for civil and military applications and commercial 
and personal uses. In addition, many satellites launched over the past 
two decades have lasted longer than expected. For example, some of the 
later DSP spacecraft have operated for more than 10 years--well past 
design lifetime.

The Joint Staff and the Combatant Commands are responsible for 
establishing overall requirements while the services are responsible 
for satisfying these requirements to the maximum extent practical 
through their individual planning, programming, and budgeting systems. 
According to DOD, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the 
intelligence community's Community Management Staff provide high-level 
leadership for national security space activities. The Air Force is the 
primary procurer and operator of space systems and spends the largest 
share of defense space funds, annually averaging about 85 percent. The 
Air Force Space Command is the major component providing space forces 
for the U.S. Strategic Command.

The Army controls the Defense Satellite Communications System and 
operates ground mobile terminals. The Navy operates the Ultra High 
Frequency follow-on satellites, the Geosat follow-on satellites, a 
weather satellite, and some space systems that contribute to 
surveillance and warning. And the National Reconnaissance Office 
designs, procures, and operates space systems for intelligence and 
defense activities.

In addition, the National Security Space Architect and National 
Security Space Integration Directorate coordinate national security 
space architectures and plans for future national security space 
activities. The Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Marine Corps, 
and other DOD agencies also participate in national security space 


The majority of satellite programs we have reviewed over the past two 
decades experienced problems during acquisition that drove up costs and 
schedules and increased technical risks.

First, requirements for what the satellite needed to do and how well it 
must perform were not adequately defined at the beginning of a program 
or were changed significantly once the program had already begun. This 
made it more difficult for programs to ensure that they could match 
their requirements to their resources (in terms of money, time, and 
technology). The more requirements were added or changed, the more that 
cost and schedule increased.

Second, investment practices were weak. At times, programs did not 
explore potentially more cost-effective investment approaches. Once 
they settled on an approach, programs often did not develop realistic 
cost estimates. From a broader perspective, investments in programs 
were not made in accordance with an overall space investment strategy 
for DOD. Funds were sometimes shifted from healthier programs to pay 
for weaker ones. Further, according to DOD officials, decisions 
external to the program office were sometimes imposed that resulted in 
unexpected funding cuts.

Third, acquisition strategies were poorly executed. For example, 
competition was reduced for the sake of schedule or DOD did not 
adequately oversee contractors. At times, contract type was not 
suitable for the work being done.

Fourth, programs did not always ensure that technologies were mature 
before making heavy investments in the program. This often caused cost 
and schedule increases due to the need to fix problems later in 
development. A continuing problem is that software needs are poorly 
understood at the beginning of a program.

Table 2 identifies examples of problems identified in our reports and 
affected systems.

Table 2: Specific Common Problems Identified in GAO Reports:

Problems: Requirements--Defining what the system needs to do and how 
well it needs to perform; Program did not adequately define 
requirements; Unresolved conflicts among users on requirements; 
Frequent changes made to requirements after product development began; 
Systems Affected by One or More Problems: DSP replacement programs; 
Milstar; AEHF; SBIRS-High.

Problems: Investment Strategy--Choosing a path that offers the most 
cost-effective solution and ensuring costs are contained; Program did 
not adequately analyze investment alternatives; Cost and/or schedule 
estimates were optimistic; Funding was unstable; Systems Affected by 
One or More Problems: DSP replacement programs; SBIRS-Low/STSS; 
Milstar; AEHF; SBIRS-High; GPS III.

Problems: Acquisition Strategy--Maximizing competition and contractor 
reliability; Level of competition was reduced or eliminated; Contract 
type was not suitable for work being done; Poor oversight over 
contractors; Systems Affected by One or More Problems: AEHF; SBIRS-

Problems: Technology--Ensuring technology is mature before heavy 
investments are made in the program; Technology not sufficiently 
mature at program start; Software needs poorly understood; Testing 
compressed, skipped, or done concurrently with production; Systems 
Affected by One or More Problems: DSP replacement programs; Milstar; 

[End of table]

Several factors contributed to the problems identified in our reports. 
First, DOD took a schedule-driven versus a knowledge-driven approach to 
the acquisition process. As a result, activities essential to 
containing costs, maximizing competition among contractors and testing 
technologies were shortchanged. Second, there was a diverse array of 
organizations with competing interests involved in overall satellite 
development--from the individual military services, to testing 
organizations, contractors, civilian agencies, and in some cases, even 
international partners. This created challenges in making tough 
tradeoff decisions, particularly since, for many years, there was no 
high-level official within the Office of the Secretary of Defense 
dedicated to developing and implementing an overall investment strategy 
for space.[Footnote 1] Often, disagreements within DOD would go 
unresolved for a long period of time. Third, space acquisition programs 
have historically attempted to satisfy all requirements in a single 
step, regardless of the design challenge or the maturity of 
technologies to achieve the full capability. This approach made it 
difficult to match requirements to available resources (in terms of 
time, money, and technology). Table 3 further illustrates how these 
cross-cutting factors can contribute to problems in requirements, 
investment strategy, acquisition strategy and technology.

Table 3: Cross-cutting Factors Contributing to Space Acquisition 
Problems and Potential Outcomes:

Cross-Cutting Factors; Requirements; Investment; Acquisition Strategy; 

[See PDF for image]

[End of table]

Other Factors Created:

Challenges for Acquisitions:

Other factors also created challenges for the satellite acquisition 
programs we reviewed. Specifically, as with other defense industry 
sectors, the satellite industry has seen a high rate of consolidation 
resulting in reduced levels of competition. In 1998, we reported that 
since 1990 the number of defense satellite contractors shrunk from 8 to 
5. Moreover, in recent years, the U.S. commercial space industry has 
seen decreasing demand and increasing international competition. Our 
work has found varying levels of success in maintaining and promoting 
competition within this environment.

DOD has also had difficulty in maintaining the capability to launch its 
satellites--partly due to problems within the expendable launch sector 
and partly due to a decision in the 1970s to fly all DOD spacecraft on 
NASA's space shuttle. According to a DOD report[Footnote 2], as a 
result of the latter, DOD investments in space launch infrastructure 
and vehicle improvements virtually halted until the Challenger accident 
of 1986. The accident itself disrupted launch schedules for programs 
such as GPS. At the same time, the lack of investment in launch 
capabilities for so many years contributed to higher launch costs after 
the accident and serious operational limitations due to aging and 
obsolete launch vehicle components and a dependence on outdated launch 
vehicle production lines. In 1998, we reported that the number of 
contractors in this sector fell from 6 to 2.

Air Force officials also cited challenges related to DOD's space 
workforce. In 2001, a congressionally chartered commission looking at 
space issues, known as the Space Commission, noted that from its 
inception the defense space program has benefited from world-class 
scientists, engineers, and operators, but now many experienced 
personnel are retiring and recruitment and retention of qualified space 
personnel is a problem. Further, the commission concluded that DOD does 
not have the strong military space culture--including focused career 
development and education and training--it needs to create and maintain 
a highly trained and experienced cadre of space professionals who can 
master highly complex technology as well as develop new concepts of 
operation for offensive and defensive space operations.

Unique aspects of satellite development and testing also presented 
challenges for programs we reviewed. For example, some testing on 
satellites can be done on the ground in thermovac or other 
environmental simulation chambers. Some systems can also be tested via 
aircraft. However, the only way to test satellites in the true 
operational space environment is to build one or more demonstrator 
satellites and launch them into orbit. Launching demonstrators is 
costly and time-consuming but it offers greater assurance that 
satellites will work as intended. Also, a high degree of coordination 
between space and ground segments as well as user equipment is 
necessary. Typically, satellite software is used to test the satellite 
before it is shipped for launch. Ground control software is typically 
installed/fielded a year before launch to allow for training and 
rehearsals. Therefore, scheduling slips within any one of these 
activities can cause problems for other activities. At the same time, 
the timing of the launching of satellites must coincide with the 
deployment of ground receivers, but this can be difficult to do when 
ground and space segments are funded by different military services.

In addition, satellite programs require a significantly larger 
investment in the acquisition phase than other weapons systems. This is 
because satellites are RDT&E intensive, go through extensive 
development testing, and need to have all of their sustainment 
capabilities on board when launched. Once on orbit they require a 
reduced amount of funding to operate when compared with the funding 
profile of a typical, large production DOD program. Air Force space 
acquisition officials stated that the funding profile for a satellite 
program is typically the reverse of the funding profile for a typical 
DOD program. The notional DOD lifecycle profile shows approximately 28 
percent of a program's budget funding its development and 72 percent of 
its budget funding the production of hundreds of units and paying for 
the operations and sustainment that goes with it. For a satellite 
program, the funding profile is "front-loaded" with 60-70 percent of 
its budget funding development and launch with 30-40 percent of the 
budget funding operations and maintenance of the satellite system. 
According to Air Force officials, this sort of profile makes it 
difficult to adapt to unknowns that arise since it is not possible to 
trade out-year production funding to fund near-term problems since the 
production numbers for satellite systems are so small.


Nearly every program we reviewed over the past several decades 
experienced one or more of the problems we identified and experienced 
cost and scheduling increases as a result. Corrective actions were 
taken on some programs to reduce cost, schedule or technical risks 
after they were identified. For example, the NPOESS program took a 
range of actions to reduce program risks, including deferring 
development of requirements, deciding to rely on existing versus new 
technology for some sensors, and using aircraft to test sensors. In 
other cases, problems were allowed to persist to the point where DOD 
needed to step in a restructure the program. SBIRS-Low, for example, 
was restructured after continuing to experience cost growth and 
scheduling delays, and SBIRS-High was restructured last year after 
experiencing continued cost growth and schedule delays. In the 1990s, 
three separate programs designed to replace DSP satellites were 
abandoned after it became clear that they would be either too costly 
and/or technically risky to pursue.

Recent cases are discussed in more detail below. A chronology of our 
findings related to individual systems is also provided in appendix I.

Advanced EHF Satellite:

The AEHF is a satellite system intended to replace the existing Milstar 
system and to be DOD's next generation of higher speed, protected 
communication satellites. We recently reported that cost estimates 
developed by the Air Force for this program increased from $4.4 billion 
in January 1999 to $5.6 billion in June 2001 for five satellites. 
Moreover, DOD will not meet its accelerated targeted date for launching 
the first satellite in December 2004. In fact, the first satellite's 
new launch date is December 2006. (DOD has since decided to purchase 
three satellites with options to purchase the fourth and fifth. The 
December 2002 Selected Acquisition Report for the AEHF showed current 
program costs at $4.7 billion for three satellites. ):

Several factors contributed to cost and schedule overruns and 
performance shortfalls. First, in the early phases of the AEHF program, 
DOD substantially and frequently altered requirements. Although 
considered necessary, many changes were substantial, leading to cost 
increases of hundreds of millions of dollars because they required 
major design modifications. Second, based on a satellite constellation 
gap caused by the failure of a Milstar satellite, DOD decided to 
accelerate its plans to build the AEHF satellites. The contractors 
proposed, and DOD accepted, a high risk schedule that turned out to be 
overly optimistic and highly compressed-leaving little room for error 
and depending on a chain of events taking place at certain times. 
Substantial delays occurred when some events did not occur on time. DOD 
decided to take this approach on the grounds it offered a chance to 
meet unmet warfighter requirements caused by the loss of the Milstar 
satellite. Third, at the time DOD decided to accelerate the program, it 
did not have the funding needed to support the activities and the 
manpower needed to design and build the satellites quicker. The lack of 
funding also contributed to schedule delays, which in turn, caused more 
cost increases.

Advanced Wideband Satellite System (AWS):

AWS (also known as the Transformational Communications Satellite or 
TSAT) is a fairly new program focused on supplementing AEHF and 
replacing DOD's Wideband Gapfiller Satellite system (WGS). DOD plans to 
include laser crosslinks on the satellite to significantly increase 
capacity. In 2003, GAO reported that the AWS program is scheduled to 
enter product development with only one of its five critical 
technologies mature according to best practice standards. Four immature 
technologies were scheduled to reach maturity by January 2006, more 
than 2 years after development start. Three of four technologies have a 
backup technology in case of development difficulties. But the Single 
Access Laser Communications technology has no backup, and according to 
program officials, any delay in maturing this technology would result 
in a slip in the expected launch date.


SBIRS-High satellites are being developed to replace DOD's older 
missile warning satellites. In addition to missile warning and missile 
defense missions, the satellites will perform technical intelligence 
and battlespace characterization missions. After the program was 
initiated in 1994, it faced cost, scheduling, and technology problems. 
GAO reports from 1995 through 2001, for example, noted that the program 
was facing serious hardware and software design problems. In 2001, the 
program reported that it had exceeded the 25 percent cost threshold 
established in 10 U.S.C. 2433. In 2002, an independent review team 
chartered by DOD to examine the reasons behind cost and scheduling 
problems in the SBIRS-High program reported that a key root cause was 
that system requirements were not well-understood when the program 
began and as it evolved. In addition, the requirements setting process 
was often adhoc with many decisions being deferred to the contractor. 
The review team also found that the program was too immature to enter 
system design and development. Further, there was too much instability 
on the program after the contract award--with DOD undertaking four 
major replanning efforts. DOD has since restructured the program and 
taken corrective actions, but the team noted that there were still 
risks within the program, including risks related to the schedule.


SBIRS-Low satellites are to perform missile warning and missile 
tracking functions. Because of their low-earth orbit, they may be 
particularly useful in tracking missiles through the midcourse of their 
flight--when missiles themselves have cooled down and become more 
difficult to track.

SBIRS-Low has been restructured due to cost, scheduling, and technical 
problems. Despite spending several billion dollars on these efforts, 
DOD has not launched a single satellite or demonstrated any space-based 
missile tracking capabilities from space using technologies similar to 
those to be used by SBIRS-Low (now called the Space Tracking and 
Surveillance System, or STSS). In 2001, GAO reported that DOD was not 
adequately analyzing or identifying cost-effective alternatives to 
SBIRS-Low that could satisfy critical missile defense requirements, 
such as a Navy ship-based radar capability. At the time, other studies 
supported the possibility that other types of sensors could be used to 
track missiles in midcourse of their flight and to cue interceptors. In 
2001, GAO reported that the SBIRS-Low acquisition schedule was at high 
risk of not delivering the system on time or at cost or within expected 
performance. Satellite development and production, for example, were to 
be done concurrently, leaving the Air Force at risk of having to 
correct problems discovered during testing at late stages of the 
acquisition process, when they are more expensive and time-consuming to 
fix. SBIRS-Low also had high technical risks because some critical 
satellite technologies were judged to be immature for the current stage 
of the program, including the scanning infrared sensor, tracking 
infrared sensor, and technologies used to cool down satellite sensors. 
As the program was experiencing cost and schedule problems, DOD 
restructured the program, moving it from the Air Force to the Missile 
Defense Agency to reflect the increased focus on missile defense and 
renaming it the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS).

In May 2003, we reported that the STSS program was not considering two 
potentially more cost effective alternatives--(1) delaying the launch 
date by one year and (2) stopping efforts to launch existing technology 
for research purposes and concentrating instead on new technology. 
Moreover, the program faced investment and scheduling risks since it 
recently reduced competition within the program and it decided on a 
2007 launch date without knowing the extent of work that must be done 
on the satellite equipment it plans to assemble and launch.

National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System 

This program essentially combined separate weather satellite efforts 
being pursued by DOD and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) after it was determined that doing so could 
reduce duplication and save money. Our earlier reviews identified 
potential requirements setting problems attributable to the broad base 
of internal customers each agency has and the diversity of requirements 
that needed to be met. DOD's selected acquisition report on NPOESS 
stated that coordination and validation of the broad-based requirements 
took longer than anticipated and delayed a request for proposal release 
by 6 months. In 1997, the NPOESS program assessed specific technical, 
scheduling, and cost risks facing the program, and determined there 
were risks within the interface data processing segment, the space 
segment, and the overall system integration segment. To reduce these 
risks, the program deferred development of requirements either because 
the technology needed to implement them did not exist or the 
requirement was too costly. It undertook earlier development of some 
satellite sensors in order to allow more time to mature technologies. 
It decided, in some cases, to use existing sensor technologies instead 
of building new ones. It also increased testing to demonstrate 
satellite sensors and to deliver early data to users to that they could 
begin to work with the data.

Global Positioning System (GPS):

GPS satellites, which provide positioning, navigation, and timing 
information to military forces and civilian users, have existed for 
over 25 years, but a full constellation of satellites has been 
operational for only 7 years. In 1980, we reported that the cost to 
acquire and maintain GPS satellites through 2000 increased from $1.7 
billion to $8.6 billion due largely to estimates not previously 
included for replenishment satellites, launches, and user equipment. In 
1983, we reported that costs might still be understated since system 
design changes were being considered. Costs and schedule were 
significantly affected in 1987 as a result of the Challenger accident, 
since DOD was depending on the space shuttle to launch GPS satellites. 
Reliability problems with GPS receivers also affected schedule 
throughout the program. In 1991, for example, we reported that DOD 
postponed full-rate production for receiver sets by 2 years due to 
reliability problems. Last fall, according to GPS program officials, 
the program was on track to launch the first GPS III satellite in 2012. 
However, following a review by the Under Secretary of the Air Force, 
funding for the program was zeroed for fiscal year 2004, and $46 
million was withheld from the fiscal year 2003 budget. Without a full 
release of the withheld funding, the program office believes the launch 
date may slip past 2012.


DOD has studied many of the problems related to satellite acquisitions 
identified in our reviews and is making changes. A 1994 study performed 
by the U.S. Space Command, for example, stated that DOD's process of 
defining requirements for space systems needed to be improved to ensure 
greater Joint Staff and Service influence in decisionmaking. With 
increasing budget pressures and dramatically different post Cold War 
strategies, the U.S. Space Command also noted that it was essential for 
all services to better understand the costs and benefits of 
requirements. A 1998 study performed by the United States Air Force 
Scientific Advisory Board advocated adopting commercial practices such 
as business case analysis, streamlined procurement, and spiral 
development of ground segments as a way to improve acquisition 
practices. The study also called for improved oversight by high-level 
officials, development of improved cost/performance models that 
increase visibility into program status and emerging problems, and 
maintaining adequate budget reserves in acquisition programs to 
minimize reprogramming actions and avoid program disruptions.

More recently, the U.S. Space Commission, chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, 
found that DOD's budgeting process and declining space workforce 
created difficulties for acquisitions. Specifically, the Commission 
noted that when satellite programs are funded in one budget and 
terminals in another, the decentralized arrangement can result in 
program disconnects and duplication. It can result in lack of 
synchronization in the acquisition of satellites and their associated 
terminals. It can also be difficult for user requirements to be 
incorporated into the satellite system if the organization funding the 
system does not agree with and support those user requirements.

Last year, the independent review team studying the SBIRS-High program 
recognized that there were broad, systemic issues that need to be 
addressed on space programs. These include: the need for pre-
acquisition rigor up front (requirements); increased funding stability; 
and the need for block upgrades since preplanned product improvements 
are very difficult for space systems, particularly for space craft. The 
team also noted that space programs tend to have "inclusive" 
requirements supporting multiple DOD and warfighting needs with many 
mission partners.

A range of actions are being undertaken by DOD and individual military 
services to streamline space acquisition. For example, the Air Force 
has developed a new space system acquisition process designed to 
shorten timeframes for technical assessments and facilitate faster 
decisionmaking. This approach will establish key decision points 
earlier in the acquisition process, as compared to the acquisition 
process for non-space systems, and will provide more oversight earlier 
in the development of complex satellite technology. According to DOD, 
the new process will conduct an independent cost estimate as part of 
the key decision point (KDP) authorizing the start of the system design 
effort and will then also conduct another cost estimate after the 
design is complete as part of the KDP prior to the start of system 
build, test and launch activities. A key feature of the new process is 
that it will use an independent program assessment team composed of 
members with appropriate expertise to thoroughly review a space program 
before each KDP. The assessment will be done on a full-time basis over 
a two to four week period in an effort to perform relevant technical 
and programmatic reviews in less time than the traditional, part-time, 
multi-layered integrated product team approach. We plan to study DOD's 
new space policy as part of our follow-on review and to assess whether 
DOD will have adequate knowledge about technology, design, and costs 
for making its decisions.

To strengthen space planning, DOD undertook efforts to develop a plan 
that would set overall objectives for space and provide a high-level 
10-to 15-year roadmap for the direction of space program. The plan is 
expected to be completed sometime in fiscal year 2003. In response to 
the Space Commission's recommendation,[Footnote 3] the Secretary of 
Defense also designated the Air Force to be the executive agent for 
space within DOD, with departmentwide responsibility for planning, 
programming, and acquiring space systems. In October 2001, DOD 
established a "virtual" major force program for space to increase 
visibility of resources allocated for space activities. The virtual 
major force program identifies spending on space activities within the 
other major force programs in DOD's Future Years Defense Budget and 
provides information by functional area. Further, in recent testimony, 
the Under Secretary of the Air Force noted that the Air Force was 
working with the Director of OSD Cost Analysis Improvement Group to 
form a national security space cost assessment team to provide a 
useful, accurate, and timely independent cost estimate with common 
methodology in support of space acquisition.

We plan to review these and other actions being taken to address 
satellite acquisition problems in a subsequent review.


DOD provided technical comments on a draft of this letter. These 
comments were largely focused on ensuring technical accuracy in our 
reporting of individual systems and providing updated information. We 
incorporated these comments where possible. DOD did not comment on our 
overall findings.

- - - --:

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Defense and 
interested congressional committees. We will also make copies available 
to others upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-4841. Key contributors to this report were 
Cristina Chaplain, Jean Harker, Natalie Britton, Bradley Terry and Art 

Katherine V. Schinasi:

Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management:

Signed by Katherine V. Schinasi:

Appendix I:

Profiles of Satellite Acquisitions:

This appendix profiles satellite programs covered by GAO reviews during 
the past two decades. It also profiles two launch systems, given their 
importance to the success of satellite programs. Among other things, 
the profiles describe the programs':


Primary users:


Architecture and key technologies:

Contractors/contract type:

Original cost/quantity and current cost/quantity[Footnote 4]

Total spent/percent total spent[Footnote 5]

The profiles also identify key GAO findings related to requirements, 
investment planning, acquisition strategy, and technology. A summary of 
these findings and our report coverage are highlighted below. In 
addition to analyzing past GAO reports, we also relied on DOD Selected 
Acquisition Reports to the Congress and several DOD studies.

Table I.1 Summary of GAO Coverage and Key Findings:

[See PDF for image]

[End of table]

Mission: Missile Warning:

Program: Defense Support Program (DSP) and early proposed replacements:

Background information.

DSP is a strategic surveillance and warning satellite system with an 
infrared capability to detect ballistic missile launches 
(intercontinental and submarine-launched). It provides near real-time 
detection information in support of DOD'S integrated tactical warning 
and attack assessment (ITW/AA) mission. DSP began in 1967, and the 
first operational satellite was deployed in 1971. The most recent DSP 
satellite launch (number 21) was in August 2001. In the late 1970s, DOD 
decided that DSP should be replaced since the system did not satisfy 
all the validated military requirements for a space-based ITW/AA 
sensor. It followed this decision with several attempts to develop 
replacement systems, but these efforts failed due to high costs and 
technology immaturity. DOD eventually made enhancements to DSP. The 
SBIRS-High program is focused on replacing DSP.

Architecture/Key Technologies.

The number of DSP satellites in orbit is classified SECRET. DSP 
satellites use infrared sensors to detect heat from missile and booster 
plumes against the earth's background. Over the last 29 years, there 
have been five major design changes. Historically, DSP satellites have 
been launched atop the Titan III & IV family of launch vehicles; one 
was launched aboard the Space Shuttle. Currently, DSP satellites are 
launched into geo-synchronous orbit using a Titan IV-B launch vehicle 
with an Inertial Upper Stage. DSP Flight 23 will be launched on an 
Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV).

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Key Issues Affecting Program.

Technology immaturity; Unanticipated costs; Lack of adequate analysis 
of alternatives; Note: Issues mostly affecting DSP replacement 

Chronology of Key Findings.

* 1992: GAO reported that DOD was not adequately analyzing alternatives 
to DSP. DOD first proposed replacing DSP with a system called the 
Advanced Warning System (AWS), but this proposal never fully 
materialized because of immature technology and high costs. A 
subsequent proposal, the Boost Surveillance and Tracking System was 
discontinued after DOD decided to pursue other technologies for 
tracking ballistic missiles. AWS was proposed for remaining tactical 
warning and attack assessment missions in 1990 but was later scaled 
down to a less costly and less capable system called the Follow-on 
Early Warning system (FEWS). GAO reported that while the current 
proposal for FEWS may provide more capability than the existing DSP 
system, DOD still needed to consider other alternatives, including an 
enhanced DSP which could be nearly as effective and cost billions 
dollars less than a fully capable FEWS. Several DOD studies supported 
this point.

* 1993: GAO reported that adding global processing 
capability--which would enable processing of data generated by the 
satellite constellation network to be done in a single station--in 
upgrades to ground processing stations for DSP might not be cost-
effective. One reason was that there were no corresponding plans to 
reduce the number of ground stations. Another reason was that 
operational requirements were not yet complete.* 1994 GAO reported 
that Congress had appropriated $515 million for FEWS for fiscal years 
1992 through 1994, but terminated the program in late 1993 based on 
affordability reasons. In late 1994, the Air Force selected ALARM 
(Alert, Locate, and Report Missiles system) to be DSP's replacement. 
ALARM was to be smaller than DSP and less capable than FEWS with an 
emphasis on greater support to tactical forces. At the time of GAO's 
review, concerns were that DOD was about to make a substantial 
investment in ALARM without fully defining operational requirements. 
Moreover, while DOD cost estimates showed ALARM to be more affordable 
than FEWS in the short term, the total life cycle costs lead GAO to 
question whether ALARM, with projected upgrades, would actually be a 
more expensive system.

* 1994: GAO reported that the Air Force plans to 
accelerate ALARM schedule by 2 years from 2004 to 2002 could add costs 
to the program which in turn could put DOD in a similar unaffordable 
position when it rejected the FEWS program. At the time, the program 
office had identified an additional $434 million that would be needed 
to support the new schedule. Accelerating schedule could also save as 
much as $700 million because it could obviate the need to procure an 
additional DSP satellite, its launcher, and an inertial upper stage. 
However, acceleration could also create program risks by shortening the 
demonstration and validation phase of the acquisition process by 10 
months and performing the critical design review a full year ahead of 
the original schedule. Air Force officials contended that previous 
engineering efforts on DSP earlier replacement programs provided enough 
experience to offset this risk.

* 1994: GAO reported that funds for 
developing two critical technologies for ALARM--infrared focal plane 
array and radiation-hardened electronics--were frozen. Contractors 
stated that no private sector funds would be available for these 

* 2003: CRS report recapped history of DSP, noting that 
none of the proposed replacement programs reached fruition, and 
instead, enhancements were made to the DSP series. For example, DSP was 
designed to detect launches of strategic long range missiles (such as 
intercontinental ballistic missiles) but following the Persian Gulf War 
DOD recognized that the threat was changing from intercontinental 
ballistic missiles to tactical missiles like the SCUD-C. In 1995, DOD 
added the ALERT (Attack and Launch Early Reporting to Theater) system, 
a ground-processing center that uses DSP data, to augment its missile 
warning capabilities.

GAO Reports.

GAO/NSIAD-92-39, GAO/NSIAD-93-148, GAO/T-NSIAD-94-108, GAO/T-NSIAD-94-
164, GAO/NSIAD-94-253.

Mission: Missile Warning:

Program: Space Based Infrared System-High (SBIRS-High):

(Continued From Previous Page)

Background information.

The SBIRS system was initiated in 1994 as an effort to replace DSP, the 
current system used to detect missile launches. Until recently, SBIRS 
had two components: SBIRS-High, which would consist of launch detection 
satellites in geo-synchronous and highly elliptical orbits and SBIRS-
Low which would consist of launch detection and tracking satellites in 
low earth orbits. In 2000, SBIRS-Low was shifted back to the Ballistic 
Missile Defense Organization, which is now the Missile Defense Agency. 
SBIRS-Low is primarily focused on supporting the missile defense 
mission. SBIRS-High is being managed by the Air Force. It is focused on 
missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence, and 
battlespace characterization.

Architecture/Key Technologies.

SBIRS-High features a mix of four geo-synchronous earth orbit (GEO) 
satellites and a spare, two highly elliptical earth orbit (HEO) 
payloads, and associated ground hardware and software. SBIRS-High will 
have both improved sensor flexibility and sensitivity over DSP. Sensors 
will cover short-wave infrared like its predecessor, expanded mid-wave 
infrared and see-to-the-ground bands allowing it to perform a broader 
set of capabilities as compared to DSP. Currently in the engineering, 
manufacturing, and development phase, the first SBIRS-High HEO payload 
is scheduled for delivery in 2003 and the first GEO satellite is 
expected to launch in 2006.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Key Issues Affecting Program.

Requirements definition; Technology immaturity; Unanticipated software 
growth; Significant cost growth; Schedule delay; Program instability.

Chronology of Key Findings.

* 1995-2001: GAO reports found the program was facing serious hardware 
and software design problems including sensor jitter, inadequate 
infrared sensitivity, and stray sunlight.

* 2001: DOD selected 
acquisition report stated the program experienced significant cost 
growth and schedule delays. Driven by poor cost and schedule 
performance and the contractor's projection of a fiscal year 2002 
funding shortfall, the System Program Office and Lockheed Martin Space 
Systems Company (LMSSC) completed a preliminary Estimate at Completion 
(EAC) exercise in October 2001. The preliminary EAC results indicated 
potential cost growth in excess of $2 billion across the Engineering 
and Manufacturing Development contract and schedule delays of 12 to 36 

* 2001: Secretary of Air Force reported a Nunn McCurdy Unit Cost Breach 
(10 U.S.C. 2433) exceeding 25 percent to Congress. House Appropriations 
Committee report (House Report 107-298) cited scheduling, cost, and 
technology problems, including unanticipated software code growth, high 
number of discrepancy reports in ground mission software, unbudgeted 
payload redesign activities, notable schedule slippages.

* 2002: An Independent Review Team (IRT) was chartered by DOD to look 
at the reasons behind significant cost increases, and program 
management and execution problems affecting the program. Key root 
causes identified included: (1) the program was too immature to enter 
system design and development, (2) system requirements decomposition 
and flowdown were not well understood as the program evolved, and 
(3) there was a significant breakdown in execution management.

* 2002: IRT reported 
that in general, the complexity, schedule, and resources required to 
develop SBIRS were, in hindsight, misunderstood. This led to an 
immature understanding of how requirements translate into detailed 
engineering solutions. In addition, the requirements setting process 
was often ad hoc with many decisions being deferred to the contractor. 
While SBIRS-High adopted a more commercial approach to doing business 
within the defense related industry--the winning contractor assumed 
Total System Performance Responsibility (TSPR) for the integrated 
architecture--TSPR was not properly understood or implemented on the 
SBIRS-High program. The way TSPR was initially applied circumvented 
traditional program management and integrated product team roles and 

* 2002: IRT also observed that there had been far too 
much instability on the program since the contract award. In a 5-year 
timeframe, the program underwent four major replanning efforts and four 
program directors. The team acknowledged that corrective actions were 
being taken on the program, but noted that there were still significant 
risks within the program, including risks related to the schedule for 
first high-elliptical orbit launch and ground software.

* 2002: Under 
Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics 
certified SBIRS-High to Congress as essential to national security, no 
alternatives offering equal or greater military capability at same or 
lower costs existed, new cost estimates were reasonable, and management 
structure was adequate to manage and control unit costs.

* 2003: CRS 
reported that SBIRS-High has become controversial because of cost 
growth and schedule slippage caused by technical challenges that have 
been encountered in developing the sensors and satellites.

* 2003: GAO 
reported that three critical technologies--the infrared sensor, thermal 
management, and on-board processor--are now mature. When the program 
began in 1996, none of its critical technologies were mature. GAO could 
not assess design stability relative to best practices, because program 
was not tracking the number of releasable drawings and did not know how 
many total drawings were expected for SBIRS-High. However, GAO reported 
that design stability has been an issue for this program. GAO could not 
assess production maturity relative to best practices because the 
contractor does not use statistical process control to assure that 
production processes are stable.

GAO Reports.

Three reports from 1995-2001 and GAO-03-476.

Mission: Missile Warning/Tracking:

Program: Space Based Infrared System-Low (SBIRS-Low); now known as the 
Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS):

Background information.

STSS started in 1990 as Brilliant Eyes, was transferred in 1993 from 
the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) to the Air Force and 
renamed the Space and Missile Tracking System (SMTS). In 1994, DOD 
terminated the SMTS program, consolidated its infrared space 
requirements, and selected SBIRS as a "system of systems" approach with 
two components: SBIRS-High, which would consist of launch detection 
satellites in geo-synchronous and highly elliptical orbits and SBIRS-
Low, which would consist of launch detection and tracking satellites in 
low earth orbits. In 2000, SBIRS-Low was shifted back from the Air 
Force to the BMDO, which is now the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). In 
2002, SBIRS-Low was renamed STSS. While STSS is primarily focused on 
supporting the missile defense mission, SBIRS-High is focused on 
missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence, and 
battlespace characterization and is managed by the Air Force.

Architecture/Key Technologies.

STSS is a capabilities-based development. STSS will build a few 
satellites at a time with later satellites being more capable than 
earlier ones. Using the advantage of a lower operational altitude, STSS 
will track tactical and strategic ballistic missiles against the cold 
background of space. The satellite's sensors will operate across long 
and short-wave infrared, as well as the visible light spectrum. These 
wavebands allow the sensors to acquire and track missiles during the 
boost phase as well as in midcourse. STSS is expected to launch its 
first satellites in 2007.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Key Issues Affecting Program.

Requirements definition; Technology immaturity; Lack of competition; 
Cost growth; Inadequate analysis of alternatives; Note: Problems mostly 
affecting past SBIRS-Low efforts.

Chronology of Key Findings.

* 1997: GAO assessed various options for accelerating SBIRS-Low 
deployment date, which had been set for 2006, given congressional 
concerns about direction of the program. GAO reported that moving up 
the date by 3 or 4 years would result in high program risk because of 
the high degree of concurrent activities between planned flight 
demonstrations and development and fabrication of satellites. 
Additional funding might also be required. Moving up the date 2 years 
would reduce the need for concurrency, and therefore lower risks, but 
still require additional funds to account for schedule compression. 
Moving up the date 1 year would reduce scheduling risks and could 
require less funding. DOD subsequently changed deployment date to 

* 2001: GAO reported that SBIRS-Low acquisition schedule was at 
high risk of not delivering the system on time or at cost or within 
expected performance because satellite development and production, for 
example, was expected to be done concurrently. SBIRS-Low program also 
had high technical risks because some critical satellite technologies 
were judged to be immature for the current stage of the program, 
including scanning infrared sensor, tracking infrared sensor, and 
technologies used to cool down satellite systems.

* 2001: GAO also 
reported that DOD was not adequately analyzing or identifying cost-
effective alternatives to SBIRS-Low that could satisfy critical missile 
defense requirements, such as a Navy ship-based radar capability. At 
the time, other studies supported the possibility that other types of 
sensors could be used to track missiles in midcourse of their flight 
and to cue interceptors.

* Subsequent to 2001 GAO report, DOD 
restructured the SBIRS-Low program because of cost and scheduling 
problems, and put the equipment it had partially built into storage. In 
2000, the Congress directed the Air Force to transfer the program to 
the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (now MDA). DOD was also 
directed to study alternatives (such as ground-based radar systems) to 

* May 2003: GAO reported that DOD believed that a 
discrimination capability (that is, the ability to detect and track 
multiple objects and differentiate the threatening warhead from decoys) 
would significantly enhance a space-based missile tracking system like 
STSS. However, DOD deferred plans to achieve this capability for STSS 
given technical challenges. GAO also reported that DOD's unwillingness 
to relax requirements for capabilities such as discrimination during 
earlier SIBRS-low efforts contributed to cost and scheduling problems.; 

* May 2003: GAO reported that in taking on the restructured SBIRS-Low 
program, now called Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS), MDA 
purposely set out to adopt a strategy that would evolve STSS over time, 
deferring some requirements, and calling for competition in development 
of sensors aboard the satellite. However, recent decisions were 
limiting MDA's ability to achieve its original goals as well as 
knowledge that could be gained from its satellite demonstrations. For 
example, plans were eliminated to have contractors compete for 
production of the sensor to detect missile launches. If it chose to 
keep STSS as part of the missile defense system, STSS could end up 
being more expensive in the future because MDA could be locked into a 
single contractor for the design and product of the larger 
constellation of satellites.

* May 2003: GAO reported that MDA was 
focused on launching its satellites by 2007 in order to assess its 
performance in the missile defense tests. However, it made this 
decision without completing its assessment of the working condition of 
the equipment it planned to assemble and use to demonstrate STSS 
capabilities. Also, MDA was not considering other approaches to 
demonstrating capabilities because they would not allow STSS to 
participate in 2006-2007 missile defense tests. These include (1) 
launching satellites in 2008 instead of 2007 and (2) dropping effort to 
demonstrate capabilities with legacy satellites that were based on 
older technology and focusing instead on developing new technology. 
Both approaches would enable MDA to inject more competition into STSS 
program, reduce scheduling risks, and demonstrate more capabilities. 
However, they also have drawbacks; primarily, they would delay MDA's 
ability to make informed tradeoffs on missile defense sensors.

GAO Reports.

GAO/NSIAD-97-16, GAO-01-6, GAO-03-597.

Mission: Current Communication Systems:

Programs: Defense Satellite Communication System (DSCS) and Milstar:

(Continued From Previous Page)

Background information.

DSCS and Milstar are current DOD communication satellite systems that 
provide protected communications to support globally distributed 
military users. The Air Force began launching the current DSCS 
satellites in 1982. The Air Force initiated the Milstar program in 
1981, but the first Milstar satellite was launched in 1994 and the last 
one in April 2003.

Architecture/Key Technologies.

Currently, ten DSCS satellites and five Milstar satellites operate in 
geo-synchronous orbit. The DSCS satellites utilize super high frequency 
transponder channels that provide the highest data capability, but 
require large antennas (4 to 60 feet) for receiving large amounts of 
data. The Milstar satellites utilize extremely high frequency 
transponder channels that provide low to medium data rate 
communications but require small antennas (5 inches to 10 feet) and 
provide communications that are more survivable and resistant to 
jamming than the DSCS. The Milstar satellites are launched onthe Titan 
IV and weigh about 10,000 pounds. The last two DSCS satellites will be 
launched by the EELV and weigh about 2,500 pounds.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Key Issues Affecting Programs.

Cost growth; Requirements changes.

Chronology of Key Findings.

1986: GAO reported that in late 1982 the Air Force realized that the 
Milstar configuration could not be achieved given existing schedule and 
budgetary constraints. As a result, the program office began rescoping 
the program to conform to the budgetary constraints in a design-to-
budget exercise. In 1983 the program office rescoped the program for a 
second time--this time adding requirements due to user input and 

* 1986: GAO reported that DOD revised the acquisition 
strategy from a total system integration package to an associate 
contractor approach because the teaming of TRW and Hughes (they had 
previously performed the majority of extremely high frequency work) 
presented an insurmountable challenge to other contractors. Under the 
associate contractor approach, rather than contracting for the whole 
system with a prime contractor, the government contracts with different 
firms for components of the system.

* 1992: GAO reported that the 
National Defense Authorization Act for FY1991 directed the Secretary of 
Defense to develop or carry out a plan for either a restructured 
Milstar or an alternative advanced communications satellite program 
that would substantially reduce program costs. DOD chose to restructure 
the program and lower costs by reducing the constellation size from 8 
to 6 satellites, the number of control stations from 25 to 9, and the 
number of terminals from 1,721 to 1,467. To provide greater system 
utility to tactical forces, DOD decided to add a medium data rate 
capability to the satellite (this would increase the volume of 
information that could be processed through the satellites).

* 1992: 
GAO reported that some satellite issues related to the Army's tactical 
use of Milstar had not been resolved. For example, formal agreement had 
not been reached on sufficient capacity that the Army claimed it 
needed. While DOD expected the medium data rate capacity to allow about 
40 million bits of information to be passed through the satellite each 
second, Army representatives stated that to satisfy critical Army 
communication requirements, at least 34.4 million bits per second would 
be needed--about 86 percent of the total planned throughput capacity 
for each satellite. After considering the multiservice aspects of the 
Milstar program, the Army concluded that to justify its participation 
in the Milstar program, the minimum throughput capacity acceptable 
would be 30.7 million bits per second--about 77 percent of the total 
planned capacity for each satellite. The remaining capacity would be 
allocated among the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps.

* 1993: 
GAO reported that in 1991 as directed by Congress, DOD published its 
military satellite communications architecture study that identified 12 
alternatives for various communications approaches that ranged from 
using all commercial to all military satellite programs. From among the 
12 alternatives, DOD selected an all military approach consisting of 
existing systems. GAO reported that DOD did not select one alternative, 
the dual common bus that provided a better way to demonstrate advanced 

* 1994: GAO reported that in response to our 1993 report, 
DOD agreed with the need to move away from customized, unique busses 
toward common busses and stated that the most cost effective approach 
for inserting modern technology was to begin developing an advanced, 
lower cost, lower weight payload capability.

* 1994: GAO reported that 
congressional directives and national policy emphasized greater use of 
commercial satellite services to reduce costs of military satellite 
services. However, a new criterion used by DOD for establishing 
communication requirements reduced general purpose requirements by over 
40 percent. This change has reduced the potential for using commercial 
satellite communication services. (It should be noted, according to DOD 
officials, that there were some pointed objections in the past year to 
the DOD's use of commercial satellite systems such as INTELSAT and 
INMARSAT because they were "part owned" by countries such as Iraq and 

* 1997: GAO reported that during the next decade, DOD 
anticipated a significant increase in its high-capacity satellite 
communications (DSCS) because of the shift in the national military 
strategy and availability of advanced technologies. DOD planned to 
replenish the existing DSCS constellation during fiscal year 1997-2003 
with the five satellites remaining in inventory. DOD was modifying four 
of these satellites to double each satellite's capacity from 100 
megabits per second (MBPS) to about 200 MBPS and to replace potentially 
defective parts with improved electronic components. Even so DSCS's 
replenishment satellites were not expected to keep pace with the 
projected requirements, thus an alternative would have been to lease 
satellite communications from commercial providers. However, according 
to DOD analysis, commercial leasing was more costly than acquiring 
equivalent commercial like capabilities.

* 1999: GAO reported that in 
1998 a draft operational test report identified four limitations 
associated with Milstar I capabilities to support strategic missions. 
While DOD had identified corrective actions, final resolutions were 
dependent on approval of requirements, verification through testing, a 
certification process, or obtaining necessary funds. Regarding tactical 
missions, the Air Force had encountered schedule delays related to 
software development for a critical Milstar component--called the 
automated communications management system--that could adversely 
affect Milstar II's timely support to tactical forces.

* 2003: GAO 
reported that in 2000, DOD recognized the need to address the 
capabilities and coverage gap caused by the April 1999 Milstar launch 
failure and adopted a high-risk accelerated schedule for the Advanced 
Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite system.

GAO Reports.

GAO/NSIAD-86-45S-15,GAO/NSIAD-92-121, GAO/T-NSIAD-92-39, GAO/NSIAD-94-
48, GAO/NSIAD-97-159, GAO/NSIAD-99-2, GAO/NSIAD-93-216, GAO/T-NSIAD-
94-108, GAO/T-NSIAD-94-164, GAO/NSIAD-94-253.

Mission: Planned Communication Systems:

Programs: Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Communications 
Satellite, Wideband Gapfiller Satellite (WGS), and Advanced Wideband 
Satellite (AWS):

Background information.

The current military satellite communications network represents 
decades-old technology. To meet the heightened demands of national 
security in the coming years, newer and more powerful systems are being 
developed. The AEHF is a satellite system intended to replace the 
existing Milstar system and to be DOD's next generation of higher 
speed, protected communication satellites. WGS will augment 
communications services currently provided by the Defense Satellite 
Communications System (DSCS), which provides super high frequency 
wideband communications. WGS will provide an interim solution to assure 
DOD's existing worldwide communication support is maintained until the 
development and deployment of the Advanced Wideband Satellite System 
(AWS) also known as TSAT. AWS is intended to become the cornerstone of 
DOD's future communications architecture that includes supplementing 
the AEHF system and replacing the WGS system.

Architecture/Key Technologies.

AEHF started in 1998 and the constellation will consist of three 
satellites in low inclined geo-synchronous orbits (requirements still 
call for five satellites-four operational and one spare) that can 
transmit data to each other via cross-links. AEHF entered the 
Engineering Manufacturing Development/Production acquisition phase in 
November 2001. Each satellite will be launched with the Evolved 
Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV); the initial launch is planned for 
December 2006.

* WGS started in 2001 and the constellation was planned 
to have 3 satellites, but the program recently added two more 
satellites because the initial capability of AWS, which is intended to 
replace AEHF and some aspects of WGS, may not be able to support all 
the super high frequency services that the users require. Thus 
additional WGS spacecraft are being acquired to bridge this gap. WGS 
combines commercial capabilities--phased array antennas and digital 
signal processing technology--into a flexible architecture that will 
allow WGS to evolve and satisfy the growing wideband communication 
requirements of the warfighter. WGS is currently in full rate 
production with the first satellite scheduled for a June 2004 launch 
aboard an EELV vehicle.

* AWS' final configuration has not yet 
solidified under ongoing milsatcom transformational efforts, but the 
concept is one of applied technology and engineering that will remove 
capacity as a constraint on warfare communications. AWS plans to take 
advantage of the commercial and government technology advances of the 
first half of this decade to meet expected needs. Some of the 
technologies that AWS plans to use are laser crosslinks, space-based 
data processing and routing systems, and highly agile multibeam/phased-
array antennas. DOD plans for the program to enter product development 
in October 2003 with the first satellite to be launched at the end of 
2009. A key program review is planned for November 2004 to determine if 
sufficient technology development has occurred to warrant continuing 
the program at its planned schedule or whether the 4[TH] and 5th AEHF 
satellites should be acquired.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Key Issues Affecting Programs.

Cost growth; Scheduling risks; Requirements Changes; Immature 
technology; Note: Problems reported primarily affect AEHF.

Chronology of Key Findings.


2002: DOD selected acquisition report commented on funding cuts. 
In fiscal year 2002, AEHF sustained a $70 million fiscal year 2002 
congressional reduction to RDT&E funding. The AEHF space segment was a 
firm fixed price contract. According to DOD, this sizable reduction 
would likely result in a six-month launch delay to satellites l-3, 
breach of initial operational capability and a significant overall 
program cost increase.

* In 2002, the Deputy Secretary of Defense 
decided to change the acquisition strategy of AEHF from a 5-satellite 
program to a 3-satellite program. Under the revised strategy, full 
capability may no longer be satisfied by an AEHF-only constellation. 
(According to DOD officials, the current DOD plan is to meet the full 
AEHF operational capability requirement with three AEHF spacecraft and 
a combination of one or two AWS spacecraft and zero, one or two 
Advanced Polar System spacecraft - this plan is driving the AWS first 
launch date of late 2009.)

* 2003: GAO reported in the early phases of 
the program, DOD substantially and frequently altered its requirements; 
the system design changed. While considered necessary, some changes 
increased costs by hundred of millions of dollars and caused scheduling 

* 2003: GAO reported that in December 1999, the two contactor 
teams that had been awarded engineering manufacturing and development 
contracts a few months earlier offered to form a "national team" to 
accelerate the AEHF program. DOD agreed to the national team proposal 
even though DOD recognized it meant lack of benefits from competition.; 

* 2003: GAO reported that once DOD decided to accelerate its plans to 
build the satellites, the contractors proposed and DOD agreed to 
support a high-risk schedule that turned out to be overly optimistic 
and highly compressed--leaving little room for error and depending on a 
chain of events taking place at certain times. Substantial delays 
occurred when some events, such as the award of the contract or the 
availability of equipment, did not occur on time. In commenting on the 
AEHF report, DOD noted the decision to accelerate the program was based 
on a satellite constellation gap caused by the loss of a Milstar 
satellite. DOD also stated many in DOD expressed concern about the 
risks, but believed the risk was acceptable based on information known 
at the time.

* 2003: GAO reported that at the time DOD decided to 
accelerate the program, it did not have the funding needed to support 
the activities and manpower needed to design and build the satellites 
quicker. The lack of funding also contributed to schedule delays, which 
in turn, caused more cost increases.

* 2003: GAO reported that the 
program demonstrated most technology knowledge at development with 11 
of 12 critical technologies having reached maturity according to best 
practice standards. However, the program office did not project 
achieving maturity on the remaining technology--the phased array 
antenna--by the design review in June 2004 and did not have a backup 
capability. Program officials assessed the software development for the 
mission control system as moderate risk and have developed a risk 
mitigation strategy. However, until these mitigation actions are 
completed, software may be at risk for unplanned cost and schedule 

* 2003: GAO reported that significant design changes affected 
cost and delayed the AEHF schedule. For example, software growth 
occurred as more requirements were added and as the design of the 
system stabilized. These increases in software requirements for both 
the satellite and the mission control segments increased the software 
cost estimate by over 77 percent or about $223 million.

* 2003: GAO 
reported in the area of production maturity that any future problems 
with the fabrication of the communications and transmission security 
microprocessor, a component designed to limit access to satellite 
transmissions to authorized users, could delay the production schedule 
and the launch of the first satellite planned for December 2006.


* 2003: GAO reported that WGS' critical technologies, design, and 
production processes are mature. DOD plans to rely on commercial 
technologies that will not require extensive product development. 
Program officials were concerned about WGS production risk that was to 
be reduced during production of commercial satellite orders. However, 
due to drastic loss of commercial satellite orders, only one commercial 
satellite with similar technologies as WGS is now leading WGS in the 
manufacturing schedule. Recently identified problems found on the 
"leader" program will impact WGS manufacturing schedule and might 
result in a first launch schedule delay of four to six months.

* 2003: 
GAO reported that the 4[TH] and 5th satellites have been directed by 
DOD to be launched in fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2010 
respectively. These dates are outside the allowable dates of the WGS 
contract options clauses and will require renegotiation to finalize 
their cost. These later launch dates could result in cost increases to 
compensate for loss of learning curve from over a three-year break in 
production, parts obsolescence, and inflation.


* 2003: GAO 
reported that AWS is scheduled to enter product development with only 
one of its five critical technologies mature. The four immature 
technologies are scheduled to reach maturity by January 2006, more than 
two years after development start. Three of the four technologies have 
a backup technology in case of development difficulties. However, the 
Single Access Laser Communications technology has no backup and 
according to program officials any delay in maturing this technology 
would result in a slip in the expected launch date.

* 2003: GAO 
reported that the program plans an aggressive development cycle even 
though the AWS is expected to provide a transformational leap in 
satellite communications capability.

GAO Reports.

GAO-03-476, a report that covers multiple systems, and an AEHF report 
in 2003.

Mission: Navigation:

Program: NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS):

(Continued From Previous Page)

Background information.

GPS is a space-based radio-positioning system nominally consisting of a 
24-satellite constellation that provides navigation and timing 
information to military and civilian users worldwide. The full 
constellation of GPS satellites has been operational for 7 years. Total 
program investment over a 43-year period (through 2016) is estimated at 
$18.4 billion.

Architecture/Key Technologies.

GPS satellites, in one of six medium earth orbits, circle the earth 
every 12 hours emitting continuous navigation signals on two different 
frequencies. In addition to the satellites, the system consists of a 
worldwide satellite control network and GPS receiver units that acquire 
the satellite's signals and translate them into precise position and 
timing information. Four generations of GPS satellites have flown in 
the constellation: the Block I, the Block II, the Block IIA, and the 
Block IIR. Block I satellites were used to test the principles of 
space-based navigation, and lessons learned from these 11 satellites 
were incorporated into later blocks. Block II, IIA and IIR satellites 
make up the current constellation. Block IIRs began replacing older 
Block II/IIAs in 1997. There are currently eight Block IIR satellites 
on orbit and they have reprogramable satellite processors enabling 
problem fixes and upgrades in flight. Up to eight IIR satellites are 
being modified to radiate both a new civil signal (L2C) and a new 
military signal (M-Code) for a more robust and capable signal 
structure.  The first modified Block IIR (designated as the IIR-M) is 
planned for launch in 2004. Block IIF satellites are the next 
generation of GPS satellites. Block IIF provides all the capabilities 
of the previous blocks with some additional benefits as well. 
Improvements include an extended design life of 12 years, faster 
processors with more memory, and a new civil signal on a third 
frequency. The first Block IIF satellite is scheduled to launch in 
2006. The Delta II has launched the Block II, IIA, and IIR satellites, 
and the EELV (Delta IV and Atlas V) will launch the Block IIF 

GPS Blocks IIF and IIR.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Key Issues Affecting Program.

Cost Growth; Schedule risk; Component reliability problems.


Chronology of Key Findings.

1980 GAO reported program cost (to acquire and maintain the program 
through the year 2000) increased from $1.7 billion to $8.6 billion due 
largely to estimates not previously included for replenishment 
satellites, launches, and user equipment. Beginning in 1983, DOD 
planned to use the Space Shuttle to launch the NAVSTAR satellites. In 
the event of Space Shuttle problems, Atlas or Titan launches would need 
to be used as an alternative at an additional cost of $12 million to 
$38 million per satellite launch. The original full operational 
capability date of August 1985 slipped 25 months.

* 1980: GAO reported 
that survivability of GPS satellites was a concern due to Soviet 
testing of an anti-satellite system and reliability of GPS satellite 
atomic clocks emerged during the demonstration and validation phase 
when 80 percent either failed or acted abnormally.

* 1983: GAO reported 
that the multiyear procurement estimate of $1.4 billion was likely 
understated because indications are that the prime contractor would 
propose a higher cost and that multiyear procurement savings were not 
correctly calculated using the present value analysis method. System 
design changes were being considered that would add considerable cost 
to the program. The program office expressed concern about the lack of 
backup launch vehicles in the event of problems with the Space 

* 1983: GAO reported that integration testing of the 
spacecraft with the qualification test vehicle was scheduled to begin 7 
to 18 months after the planned March 1983 award date of the production 
contract. The consequences of concurrency could lead to design changes 
and additional costs. The program office was considering two design 
changes to the production spacecraft, a W-sensor and enhancements 
related to GPS survivability.

* 1987: GAO reported that following the 
Challenger accident in January 1986, the Air Force reduced the number 
of GPS satellites planned for launch on the Space Shuttle from 28 to 8, 
because it had awarded a contract to McDonnell Douglas to build and 
launch 7 medium expendable launch vehicles with an option to purchase 
up to 13 more.

* 1987: GAO reported GPS acquisition changes after the 
Space Shuttle Challenger's accident: (1) NASA slipped the date for the 
first launch schedule for the Block II satellites from January 1987 to 
June 1989, (2) since the GPS program was in the production and 
deployment phase, the Air Force began stretching out the procurement 
process, and (3) the Air Force postponed a planned buy of 20 Block II-
R replenishment satellites because the program office's estimated need 
date for these replenishment satellites had slipped 3 years.

* 1987: 
GAO reported that since development of GPS user equipment (consists of 
1-,2-, and 5-channel radio receiver sets) was almost 3 years behind 
schedule due to technical problems, the Challenger loss caused no 
further adjustment to user equipment production.

* 1987: GAO reported 
that even though user equipment technology was changing rapidly with 
miniaturized and less costly sets currently available from several 
manufacturers, program office officials expressed concern about 
incurring substantial costs by changing to the new equipment and that 
the new equipment would not meet military specifications.

* 1991: GAO 
reported that DOD postponed full-rate production for receiver sets from 
March 1989 to September 1991 due to lingering receiver set reliability 
problems and reevaluation of program requirements. During development 
testing the Army discovered reliability problems with the one-and two-
channel GPS receiver sets. One 5-channel set experienced a number of 
failures during multiservice testing and this led to a marginal rating 
of all 5-channel receivers.

GAO Reports.

GAO/PSAD-80-21, GAO/MASAD-83-9, GAO/NSIAD-87-209BR, GAO/NSIAD-91-74.

Mission: Weather:

Programs: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and National 
Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS):

(Continued From Previous Page)

Background information.

Since the 1960s, the U.S. has operated two separate polar-orbiting 
meteorological satellite systems. These systems are known as the Polar-
orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES), managed by the 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Defense 
Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), managed by DOD. These 
satellites obtain environmental data that are the predominate input to 
numerical weather prediction models--all used by weather forecasters, 
the military and the public. Polar satellites also provide data used to 
monitor environmental phenomena as well as data that are used by 
researchers for a variety of other studies, such as climate monitoring. 
Given the expectation that converging the POES and DMSP program would 
reduce duplication and result in sizable cost savings, a May 1994 
Presidential Decision Directive required NOAA and DOD to converge the 
two satellite programs into a single program capable of satisfying both 
military and civilian requirements. The converged program is called the 
National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System 

Architecture/Key Technologies.

DMSP satellites circle the Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles in a 
near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit. Each scans an area 1,800 miles wide 
and covers the entire Earth in about 12 hours. Pointing accuracy of the 
satellites is maintained by four reaction wheel assemblies that provide 
three-axis stabilization. The primary sensor on board is the 
Operational Linescan System that observes clouds via visible and 
infrared imagery for use in worldwide forecasts. A second important 
sensor is the Special Sensor Microwave Imager, which provides all-
weather capability for worldwide tactical operations and is 
particularly useful in typing and forecasting severe storm activity. 
DMSP satellites also carry a suite of additional sensors, which collect 
a broad range of meteorological and space environmental data for 
forecasting and analysis. Historically DMSP satellites have been 
launched on Titan II boosters from Vandenberg Air Force Base with the 
most recent launch occurring on December 12, 1999. One more DMSP 
satellite will be launched on a Titan II booster. The remaining four 
DMSP satellites will be launched on Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle 
(EELV) boosters from Vandenberg Air Force Base. There are two 
operational DMSP satellites.

* NPOESS program acquisition plans call 
for the procurement and launch of six NPOESS satellites over the life 
of the program and the integration of 14 instruments, including 12 
environmental sensors. Together, the sensors and spacecraft receive and 
transmit data on atmospheric, cloud cover, environmental, climate, 
oceanographic, and solar-geophysical observations. Additional 
instruments are carried to support search and rescue efforts and data 
collection from a variety of globally deployed transmitters. NPOESS 
will be a launch-on-demand system, and satellites must be available to 
back up the planned launches of the final POES and DMSP satellites. The 
first NPOESS satellite--designated C1--is scheduled for delivery in 
late 2009, according to Air Force officials.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Key Issues Affecting Program.

Requirements definition/meeting user needs; Technical/scheduling 
risks; Note: Problems reported affect NPOESS rather than DMSP.

Chronology of Key Findings.

* 1987: GAO reported that the program could save millions of dollars by 
converging NOAA and DOD weather satellite programs, which would reduce 
the number of satellites from four to three.

* 1987: GAO reported that 
NOAA and Air Force requirements were diverging in several respects, 
making the effort to converge the two programs more difficult. For 
example, NOAA wanted to change its approach from using expendable 
convention satellites to installing sensors on serviceable platforms. 
The Air Force plans to continue using its current, conventional design 
of DMSPs (expendable and rocket launched) into the late 1990s before 
redesigning a new system. NOAA and Air Force also differed on quality 
standards for electronic components.

* 1995: GAO reported that while 
the planned delivery date for the first satellite was 2004, 
transferring two DMSP satellites to NOAA might require that delivery be 
accelerated to as early as 2001. Such an action would increase both 
technical and schedule risks and require substantial increases in the 
convergence program's near-term budget.

* 1995: GAO reported that 
interchangeable components between DMSP and NOAA satellites were less 
than earlier estimated. Of 63 platform components, only 15 (24 
percent), such as the inertial measurement unit and earth and sun 
sensing equipment, could be used on NOAA satellites without 
modifications. Another 13 components (21 percent), such as the power 
supply electronics, battery charge assembly, and solar array 
electronics, could be used if they were modified, at additional cost. 
The remaining 35 components (55 percent) were either substantially 
different or unique and had no value to NOAA. Additionally, DMSP 
mission sensors could not be used because they are unique and would not 
satisfy NOAA's requirements.

* 1997: NPOESS integrated program office 
determined that there were scheduling, technical and cost risks 
associated with the interface data processing segment and overall 
system integration and with the space segment.

* 2001: DOD selected 
acquisition report commented on schedule delays being reported to 
Congress. Specifically, DOD stated that the Joint Agency Requirements 
Group final review of the updated NPOESS requirements took longer than 
planned. As a result the engineering and manufacturing development 
request for proposal release, initiation of the life cycle cost 
estimate update, and the final release of the technical requirements 
document were delayed. The milestone decision was moved from February 
2002 to August 2002.

* 2002: GAO reported that technical, schedule, and 
cost risks were being reduced by deferring development of requirements, 
initiating earlier development of sensors and/or relying on existing 
versus new technology, conducting ground-based demonstrations of data 
processing system, and using aircraft to test sensors, among other 

* 2002: GAO reported that processing centers face 
challenges in handling the massive increase in the volume of data that 
would be sent by the new satellites. Whereas current polar satellites 
produce approximately 10 gigabytes of data per day, NPOESS is expected 
to provide 10 times that amount. Agencies involved in the program were 
working to address this problem by improving data management 
infrastructure, but more could be done to coordinate and further define 
these efforts.

* 2003: GAO reported that NPOESS entered product 
development in August 2002 with most of its technologies mature. The 
program also completed a significant portion of the engineering 
drawings well in advance of the design review; however, the total 
number has yet to be determined. Over 5 years ago, program officials 
considered the program to have several high-risk areas. Since then, 
officials have implemented several efforts, which are expected to 
reduce all program areas to low risk by the first NPOESS launch, 
currently scheduled for the 2008-2009 time frame.

GAO Reports.

GAO/NSIAD-87-107, GAO/NSIAD-95-87R, GAO-02-684, GAO/NSIAD-94-253.

Mission: Launch:

Programs: Titan IV and Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV):

Background information.

Over the years DOD has used a fleet of expendable launch vehicles--
Delta, Atlas, and Titan--to transport a variety of satellites into 
space. The Titan IV is a heavy-lift space launch vehicle used to carry 
DOD payloads such as Defense Support Program (DSP) and Milstar 
satellites into space. The Titan IV was designed to complement the 
National Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) and serve as an 
independent vehicle system to assist in assuring DOD access to space. 
Air Force contracted for a total of 41 Titan IV vehicles with the last 
launch scheduled for 2004. DOD considers these launch vehicles to 
currently operate at or near their maximum performance capacity and to 
be very costly to produce and launch. Since 1987, the government has 
made several attempts to develop a new launch vehicle, but these 
attempts were canceled either because of funding issues, changing 
requirements, or controversy regarding the best solution.

* In 1994, 
by congressional direction, DOD developed a space launch modernization 
plan that led to the initiation of the Evolved Expendable Launch 
Vehicle (EELV) program. With EELV, the Air Force hoped to cut its 
heavy-lift mission costs by about 50 percent and its overall launch 
mission costs by at least 25 percent. The intent of the EELV program 
was to develop a family of launch vehicles, using common components, 
standard services and supporting systems that would significantly 
reduce the life-cycle cost compared to today's systems. Due to a sudden 
projected increase in commercial demand that was forecast in 1997, Air 
Force approved a plan to develop the Atlas V and Delta IV EELVs, rather 
than just one of them. The additional cost of maintaining two EELV 
launch infrastructures was intended to be offset by more competitive 
pricing. The successful launches of the medium-lift models of the Atlas 
V and Delta IV rockets in 2002 fulfilled part of the engineering, 
manufacturing, and development segment of the Air Force EELV contract 
to Boeing and Lockheed Martin. In the initial launch service award 
(1998) Boeing was awarded 19 launch services and Lockheed Martin was 
awarded 9 launch services. Current launch services awards have been 
modified after the 2000 EELV restructure to 19 missions for Boeing and 
7 missions for Lockheed Martin. Both contractors plan to deploy their 
commercial launch service to launch both commercial and government 

Architecture/Key Technologies.

Each Titan launch vehicle is made up of a core, a fairing, and a set of 
solid rocket motors. Solid rocket motors along with liquid rockets in 
the core provide the propulsion for the Titan IV. The Titan IV may also 
have an optional upper stage to provide the additional booster capacity 
that some satellite payloads require to reach their intended orbit. The 
EELV will use the Delta IV launch vehicle built by Boeing and the Atlas 
V built by Lockheed Martin. Boeing developed the RS-68 liquid-oxygen/ 
liquid-hydrogen main engine, for the Delta IV, which is the first 
cryogenic engine built in the United States since the Space Shuttle 
Main Engine. Lockheed Martin's main engine, the RD-180, is a liquid-
oxygen/kerosene engine developed in a joint venture between 
NPOEnergomash, a Russian company, and UTC/Pratt and Whitney.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

Key Issues Affecting Programs.

Schedule risk with transition to new launch vehicle; Acquisition 
strategy changed DOD oversight role; Cost reductions uncertain; Note: 
Problems report affect EELV rather than Titan IV.

Chronology of Key Findings.

Titan IV; 1991 GAO reported that slowing down Titan IV production may 
eventually result in an overall increase in program costs, but that 
budgetary requirements may be reduced by $47 million in FY1992 and $11 
million in FY1993.

* 1991: GAO reported that the Air Force planned to 
slowdown production of the Titan IV launch vehicle to better 
synchronize production and launch schedules. This restructuring of the 
program would result in slowing down production from 8-10 vehicles per 
year to not more than 6 vehicles per year beginning in 1992. The Titan 
IV has an optional upper stage, the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) and the 
newer Centaur, to provide addition booster capacity for some satellite 
payloads like the DSP. However, the DSP satellites to be boosted by the 
IUS were not under contract and their launch was expected to be 
delayed. In addition, planned production of the IUS vehicles for 1992 
would likely slip to 1995.

* 1991: GAO reported that numerous problems 
had delayed the transition of the solid rocket motor upgrade program 
from development and testing to production. For example, during the 
first static firing test of the rocket motor upgrade the test motor 
exploded which would likely result in at least a one-year delay in 
production from October 1991.

* 1993: DOD Bottom-Up Review noted that 
there are two types of requirements for space launch: (1) performance-
-the ability to deliver a satellite reliably to a specific orbit, and 
(2) operational flexibility. This review reported that current launch 
systems generally met the first objective but not the second. 
Performance and flexibility was inadequate because of (1) the need to 
sustain three separate launch teams and associated equipment; (2) the 
aging and obsolescence of major ELV components; and (3) continued 
dependence on outdated launch vehicle production lines and manpower-
intensive launch processes. This report also found that there was 
overcapacity in the American space launch industry. As a result, the 
three manufacturers operated at less than 50% capacity, which raised 
the unit cost of each launch vehicle. The ability to sustain three 
launch suppliers over the long term was in doubt. Foreign competition 
was also a factor. DOD examined three options to address these issues: 
(1) extend the life of the current launch vehicle fleet to the year 
2030; (2) develop a new family of expendable launch vehicles to replace 
the current fleet starting in 2004; and (3) pursue a technology-focused 
effort to develop a reusable launch vehicle. Option 1 was selected as 
the most cost-effective option in the near-term while meeting DOD's 

* 1994: DOD Space Launch Modernization Plan sought to 
develop roadmap options establishing priorities, goals, and milestones 
for the modernization of U.S. space launch capabilities. This report 
cited the growing sense within Congress and others that while space 
launch is a critical issue for America's future in space, there is no 
coherent national plan to guide our actions into the next century. The 
study developed 15 recommendations concerning, among others, the 
industrial base, investment, requirements, and coordination. The most 
consistent theme of the study is that space launch is the key enabling 
capability for the Nation to exploit and explore space.

* 1994: GAO 
reported that according to the April 1994 Moorman report, fewer 
satellites, with longer lives, perform more work, which has resulted in 
decreased launch rates and excess launch vehicle production and 
processing capacity. The accompanying negative effect is low, 
inefficient production rates that raise unit costs.

* 1994: GAO 
reported that DOD lacked an adequate and validated set of requirements 
for a future launch system. While DOD desired to improve and evolve the 
existing expendable launch vehicle fleet, it hadn't established an 
approach for acquiring and evaluating Russian launch vehicle components 
and technologies to incorporate into future designs.


* 1997: GAO 
reported that cost risk was inherent in the vehicle acquisition plan 
because production could be initiated from 1 to 2 years before the 
first system development test flight. Such a strategy could result in 
costly modifications to the production vehicles. Since there was 
uncertainty in program cost the potential exists for program cost 
increases. Cost dictated that there would not be any launches for 
operational test and evaluation purposes.

* 1997: GAO reported that the 
program had schedule risk because DOD would purchase the last of its 
existing expendable launch vehicles before the first system development 
test flight was scheduled to occur. If the test flight was 
unsuccessful, coupled with the expiration of existing contracts, this 
could create a void in DOD's launch capability. GAO had reported on 
numerous occasions about the risks associated with program concurrency 
and initiating production without adequate testing.

* 1997: GAO 
reported that the Air Force had identified vehicle propulsion, systems 
integration, and software as technical risk areas. Propulsion systems 
were expected to require significant development. Integrating all 
design, engineering, testing, manufacturing, and launch functions and 
the software information system were expected to be challenging tasks. 
The commercial application of the EELV posed a unique situation for the 
government with the winning contractor potentially enjoying an enhanced 
competitive edge (the demand for commercial launches has not 
materialized and two contractors were awarded EELV contracts) from 
DOD's investment in the program.

* 1998: GAO reported that the primary 
benefits associated with the EELV program should be reduced cost to the 
government, but that DOD's cost reduction estimate was uncertain due to 
fluctuations in number, type and timing of launches.

* 1998: GAO 
reported that meeting launch site facility preparation schedules as the 
primary program risk because construction had to begin shortly after 
the milestone II decision in June 1998 to support the first EELV launch 
in fiscal year 2002.

* 1998: GAO reported that DOD's use of other 
transaction instruments, a relatively new acquisition method, would 
challenge DOD in determining how best to protect the government's 
interests. Other transactions are generally not subject to the federal 
laws and regulations governing standard procurement contracts. 
Consequently, when using other transaction (10 U.S.C. 2731) authority, 
contracting officials are not required to include standard contract 
provisions that typically address such issues as financial management 
or intellectual property rights, but rather may structure the 
agreements as they consider appropriate. In addition, the two 
contractors were not willing to guarantee system performance because 
DOD's financial risk was to be capped at $500 million per contractor, 
while the contractor's financial risk would be an open-ended 
commitment. As a result, the contractors would not guarantee a launch 
vehicle capability to meet the government's requirements (would only 
agree to provide a "best effort").

* 2001: DOD selected acquisition 
report commented on satellite weight growth for the Wideband Gapfiller 
Satellite (WGS) and Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) 
satellites. For example, the WGS spacecraft weight growth had driven a 
need to upgrade from Medium to Intermediate for both Delta IV and Atlas 
V launch vehicle configurations for the first three WGS missions. 
Spacecraft weight growth on the AEHF satellite had also resulted in 
additional funding being added to the budget in order to upgrade to an 
Intermediate class vehicle.

GAO Reports.

GAO/NSIAD-91-271, GAO/NSIAD-94-253, GAO/NSIAD-97-130, GAO/NSIAD-98-

Appendix II:

Related GAO Reports:

Missile Warning and Tracking:

Missile Defense: Alternative Approaches to Space Tracking and 
Surveillance System Need to be Considered. GAO-03-597. Washington, 
D.C.: May 23, 2003.

Defense Acquisitions: Space-Based Infrared System-low at Risk of 
Missing Initial Deployment Date. GAO-01-6. Washington, D.C.: February 
28, 2001.

National Missile Defense: Risk and Funding Implications for the Space-
Based Infrared Low Component. GAO/NSIAD-97-16. Washington, D.C.: 
February 25, 1997.

Defense Support Program: Ground Station Upgrades Not Based on Validated 
Requirements. GAO/NSIAD-93-148. Washington, D.C.: May 21, 1993.

Early Warning Satellites: Funding for Follow-on System Is Premature.

GAO/NSIAD-92-39. Washington, D.C.: November 7, 1991.


Military Satellite Communications: Concerns With Milstar's Support to 
Strategic and Tactical Forces.  GAO/NSIAD-99-2. Washington, D.C.: 
November 10, 1998.

Defense Satellite Communications: Alternative to DOD's Satellite 
Replacement Plan Would Be Less Costly. GAO/NSIAD-97-159. Washington, 
D.C.: July 16, 1997.

Military Satellite Communications: DOD Needs to Review Requirements and 
Strengthen Leasing Practices.  GAO/NSIAD-94-48. Washington, D.C.: 
February 24, 1994.

Military Satellite Communications: Opportunity to Save Billions of 
Dollars.  GAO/NSIAD-93-216. Washington, D.C.: July 9, 1993.

Military Satellite Communications: Milstar Program Issues and Cost-
Saving Opportunities. GAO/ NSIAD-92-121. Washington, D.C.: June 26, 

Military Satellite Communications: Potential for Greater Use of 
Commercial Satellite Capabilities. GAO/ T-NSIAD-92-39. Washington, 
D.C.: May 22, 1992.

DOD Acquisition: Case Study of the MILSTAR Satellite Communications 
System.  GAO/NSIAD-86-45S-15. Washington, D.C.: July 31, 1986.


Global Positioning System: Production Should Be Limited Until Receiver 
Reliability Problems Are Resolved. GAO/NSIAD-91-74. Washington, D.C.: 
March 20, 1991.

Satellite Acquisition: Global Positioning System Acquisition Changes 
After Challenger's Accident.  GAO/NSIAD-87-209BR. Washington, D.C.: 
September 30, 1987.

Issues Concerning the Department of Defense's Global Positioning System 
as It Enters Production. GAO/ MASAD-83-9. Washington, D.C.: January 26, 

NAVSTAR Should Improve the Effectiveness of Military Missions--Cost Has 
Increased. GAO/ PSAD-80-21. Washington, D.C.: February 15, 1980.


Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites: Status, Plans, and Future Data 
Management Challenges.  GAO-02-684T. Washington, D.C.: July 24, 2002.

Meteorological Satellites.  GAO/NSIAD-95-87R. Washington, D.C.: 
February 6, 1995.

Weather Satellites: Economies Available by Converging Government 
Meteorological Satellites. GAO/NSIAD-87-107. Washington, D.C.: April 
23, 1987.


Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle: DOD Guidance Needed to Protect 
Government's Interest.  GAO/NSIAD-98-151. Washington, D.C.: June 11, 

Access to Space: Issues Associated With DOD's Evolved Expendable Launch 
Vehicle Program.  GAO/NSIAD-97-130. Washington, D.C.: June 24, 1997.

Titan IV Launch Vehicle: Restructured Program Could Reduce Fiscal Year 
1992 Funding Needs.  GAO/NSIAD-91-271. Washington, D.C.: September 6, 

Reports Covering Multiple Space Programs and Management Issues:

Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Major Weapon Programs. GAO-03-476. 
Washington, D.C.: May 15, 2003.

Defense Space Activities: Organizational Changes Initiated, but Further 
Management Actions Needed.  GAO-03-379. Washington, D.C.: April 18, 

Military Space Operations: Planning, Funding, and Acquisition 
Challenges Facing Efforts to Strengthen Space Control.  GAO-02-738. 
Washington, D.C.: September 23, 2002.

Defense Industry: Consolidation and Options for Preserving 
Competition.  GAO/NSIAD-98-141. Washington, D.C.: April 1, 1998.

National Space Issues: Observations on Defense Space Programs and 
Activities. GAO/NSIAD-94-253. Washington, D.C.: August 16, 1994.

Military Space Programs: Comprehensive Analysis Needed and Cost Savings 
Available.  GAO/T-NSIAD-94-164. Washington, D.C.: April 14, 1994.

Military Space Programs: Opportunities to Reduce Missile Warning and 
Communication Satellites' Costs.  GAO/T-NSIAD-94-108. Washington, 
D.C.: February 2, 1994.

Military Space Programs: An Unclassified Overview of Defense Satellite 
Programs and Launch Activities.  GAO/NSIAD-90-154FS. Washington, D.C.: 
June 29, 1990.



[1] In 1994, DOD established the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary 
of Defense for Space. The Deputy was responsible for developing, 
coordinating, and overseeing the implementation of space policy. The 
Deputy also had oversight responsibility for space architectures as 
well as space acquisition programs. In 1998, this office was dissolved 
and its responsibilities divided and given to other offices within OSD 
and the military services.

[2] Aspin, Les, Secretary of Defense, Report on the Bottom-up Review, 
October 1993.

[3] We recently reported on the status of DOD's efforts to implement 
the Commission's recommendations. See Defense Space Activities: 
Organizational Changes Initiated, but Further Management Actions Needed 
(GAO-03-379, April 2003).

[4] Original and current cost estimates were inflated from the base 
year reported in the SAR to 2003 current dollars using DOD escalation 
factors. For older SARs with very early base years such as DSP, 
inflating the dollar amounts may be subject to error based on accuracy 
of escalation factors. In some cases, DOD provided us with updated cost 

[5] Total dollars spent were inflated from the year the SAR was issued 
to 2003 dollars. The percent total spent was taken from the latest SAR 
available and was not calculated by GAO. In some cases, DOD provided us 
with updated cost information.