Space Shuttle:

Status of Advanced Solid Rocket Motor Program

NSIAD-93-26: Published: Nov 17, 1992. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Advanced Solid Rocket Motor (ASRM) Program, focusing on the: (1) extent to which the need for the program has changed; and (2) reasons for cost growth and schedule slippage.

GAO found that: (1) NASA planned the ASRM program to enhance space shuttle safety and reduce human errors in shuttle motor production; (2) NASA identified two payloads that would need the additional lift capacity that ASRM would provide, but redesigned one payload to make it lighter, and ASRM will not be available by the scheduled launch date for the other payload; (3) several advisory groups have recommended that NASA reconsider the ASRM program; (4) since the catastrophic shuttle accident in January 1986, NASA has flown 26 successful shuttle missions with the redesigned motor that ASRM is intended to replace, with no evidence of safety or reliability problems; (5) estimated ASRM development program costs have increased from $1.67 billion to $3.25 billion, a 95-percent increase; (6) the schedule for the first ASRM flight has slipped 31 months, to February 1997; and (7) further cost increases and schedule delays are likely.

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