Zee Media Bureau
Washington: A federal audit report said that the US space agency, NASA, does not have enough money for launching big rockets and that its new $12 billion rocket program may not be launched by the end of 2017 as planned.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Wednesday issued a report saying NASA’s Space Launch System is at high risk of missing its planned December 2017 initial test flight.
The post-space shuttle program would build the biggest rockets ever, larger than the Saturn V rockets, to send astronauts to asteroids and Mars.
During the Apollo 11 mission, the Saturn V rocket was used to launch Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon.
“They can’t meet the date with the money they have,” report author Cristina Chaplain said. She said it wasn’t because the space agency had technical problems with the congressionally-required program, but that NASA didn’t get enough money to carry out the massive undertaking.
The GAO report put the current shortfall at USD 400 million, but did say NASA was “making solid progress” on the rocket program design.
The report said NASA’s launch system officials told the GAO that there was a 90 per cent chance of not hitting the launch date at this time.
However, according to NASA Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier, the agency is working on the problems GAO highlighted, but delaying launch or diverting money from other programs would harm taxpayers.
(With PTI Inputs)
Photo credit: NASA