.]Ir1lv. 1!)!)(I SPACE TRANSPORTATION. ’ NASA Has No Firm Need for Increasingly Costly Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle -_ d Fb llllllIII 141905 (;A()/ NSIAI)-!ml!~2 National Security and International Affair6 JMviaion B-239670 July 31,lQQo The Honorable Robert A. Roe Chairman, Committee on Science, Space,and Technology Houseof Representatives Dear Mr. Chairman: As you requested, we have reviewed the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration’s (NASA) Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (OMV) program. Specifically, we evaluated the need to continue the OMVprogram in light of reductions in its capabilities and the reasonsfor changes in OMVprogram costs and schedules. We are sending copies of this report to the Administrator of NASA and appropriate congressionalcommittees. Copieswill be made available to other interested parties upon request. This report was prepared under the direction of Mr. Mark E. Gebicke,Director, NASA Issues, who may be reached on (202) 276-6140if you or your staff have any questions concerning the report. Major contributors to the report are listed in appendix I. Sincerely yours, Frank C. Conahan Assistant Comptroller General . l3xecutiveSummary The Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (OMV) was conceived in 1986 as a Purpose $406 million multipurpose space tug. However, the estimated cost of the program has grown to $736.6 million. In late 1989, the National Aero- nautics and Space Administration (NASA) reduced or eliminated some of the OMV'S planned capabilities to contain growing program costs. The Chairman, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, asked GAO to determine (1) whether NASA had established a firm need for the OMV and (2) why the program costs have grown so much. The OMV program was initiated as a way of extending the practical reach Background of the space shuttle. It was to transport satellites from the shuttle to other orbits, reboost them when their orbits decayed, retrieve and return them to the shuttle when they malfunctioned, and control their reentry into the atmosphere when their useful lives expired. Subsequent OMV enhancements would enable it to refuel satellites in orbit, perform in-orbit satellite repairs, and rescue out-of-control satellites. The OMV was to operate initially from the shuttle’s cargo bay but would ulti- mately operate from the Space Station Freedom. OMV was designed to be a free-flying, remotely controlled propulsion stage about 15 feet in diameter and 6 feet thick that would be carried into orbit inside the shuttle’s cargo bay. Once separated from the shuttle, the OMV would be remotely controlled by astronauts working at consoles on earth. The OMV'S detailed design and development phase began in fiscal year 1986. The cost-plus-award-fee contract provides for the design, develop- ment, test, verification, and delivery of one OMV flight vehicle and asso- ciated support equipment. A firm requirement for the OMV does not exist. NASA can accomplish the Results in Brief OMV'S scheduled missions of reboosting the Hubble Space Telescope and deploying and reboosting the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility in other ways that cost less. Other potential missions may or may not materialize, but the OMV would have to be significantly enhanced before NASA could use it on most of these other missions, Since the OMV'S design and development phase began in 1986, estimated OMV program costs have increased by 82 percent, even though the Page 2 GAO/NSIAD99-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle vehicle’s capabilities have significantly decreased. The increase is attrib- utable to (1) schedule stretchouts caused by internal NASA budget reduc- tions, (2) program changes, and (3) contract cost growth. Further cost increases appear likely, especially if NASA is to make maximum use of the OMV. Principal Findings OMV Is Not Needed for In late 1989, NASA reduced or eliminated a number of planned OMV per- Scheduled Missions formance capabilities. The OMV is now being designed principally to reboost the Hubble Space Telescope and deploy and reboost the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility. Several NASA studies show, how- ever, that the shuttle can perform these missions without the OMV. A recent performance assessment shows that the OMV will not be needed to deploy the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility if advanced solid rocket motors are available on the shuttle. According to the assessment, the shuttle with these motors will be able to deliver this observatory to its desired orbital altitude without the OMV. The first shuttle flight using the advanced motors is scheduled for late 1995-well before the obser- vatory’s April 1997 deployment schedule. Other NASA studies show that the shuttle can maintain the Hubble and the X-ray observatories at acceptable altitudes by reboosting them during regularly scheduled maintenance flights. One or two additional shuttle flights dedicated to reboosting the observatories could be required early in the next century if the OMV is not developed. The cost of the two additional shuttle flights to reboost the observato- ries would be about $277 million. The cost of continued development and operation of the OMV for the two missions would be about $716 mil- lion-more than two and one-half times the cost of the shuttle flights. Future Mission for the Program officials have identified other, longer-term missions that they OMV Uncertain believe the OMV could enhance. For example, an OMV-type vehicle may be needed to help maneuver materials in space if NASA undertakes staffed missions to the moon or to Mars. However, these missions have not yet d been approved, and NASA has not decided what equipment would be needed to perform them. If these missions are approved and the OMV is Page 3 GAO/NSLAD-90-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Executive Summary used, capabilities that were removed from the design in 1989 would have to be restored. These capabilities include the addition of advanced solar arrays to allow for basing at Space Station Freedom. Estimated Costs Continue Since the design and development phase began in fiscal year 1986, esti- to Increase mated OMV program costs have incurred a net increase of $331.6 mil- lion-from $406.0 million to $736.6 million. Schedule stretchouts caused $266.1 million of the increase. Program changes such as shifting respon- sibility for OMV operations from Marshall Space Flight Center to the Johnson Space Center added another $106,9 million. The remaining $123.1 million of the increase was attributed to contract cost growth. NASA reduced the program estimate by $163.6 million by eliminating some of the OMV'S capabilities and reducing cost reserves. NASA requested $86.4 million in its fiscal year 1991 budget. The same factors that caused earlier cost increases could cause future increases. According to the Associate Administrator for Space Flight, the OMV program is not immune to future budget cuts, which could cause additional schedule delays and cost increases, Also, program changes are to be expected as a result of the critical design review scheduled for April 1991 and subsequent hardware fabrication and testing. NASA is also concerned about additional contract cost growth. A number of the subcontracts have not yet been awarded, and firm prices have not been negotiated for other subcontracts. The current estimate includes a cost reserve to cover future changes, but the reserve is about half the amount NASA normally includes in cost estimates of programs at this stage of development. OMV acquisition costs could increase to a cumulative total of $1.3 billion if NASA decided to use the vehicle for other missions, which would involve (1) restoring capabilities eliminated in the 1989 restructuring, (2) purchasing a second vehicle, (3) making the two OMVS compatible with expendable launch vehicles, and (4) purchasing an initial contin- gent of spare parts. However, NASA considered it unlikely that it would do all of these things. Continued development of the OMV is not the most cost-effective Recommendation and approach to accomplishing currently scheduled missions and future mis- Agency Action J sion requirements are uncertain. In its draft report GAO therefore recom- mended that the NASA Administrator terminate the OMV program. NASA terminated the OMV program 6 days after receiving GAO'S draft report, Page4 GAO/NSIAD-90.192NASA'sOrbitdManeuverhgVehicle Executive Summary citing budget pressures and the absence of a firm, near-term require- ment for the vehicle. The Congress should deny the $86.4 million requested for OMV develop- Matter for ment in fiscal year 1991, less any amount needed for termination Congressional expenses. According to a preliminary NASA estimate, about $33.2 million of fiscal year 1991 funding will be needed for termination. Consideration GAO incorporated NASA's comments into this report where appropriate. Agency Comments Page 5 GAO/NSIAD-90-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle _ ____.. . _ ,.. ._, ,. ,_,,, ., _ , .I.. _ _. ._ . Contentis Executive Summary Chapter 1 8 Introduction Program History Program Costs 10 11 Program Management 11 Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 12 Chapter 2 13 NASA Has Not Program Restructuring Reduced OMV’s Capabilities OMV Not Needed for Scheduled Missions 13 16 Established a Firm Future Mission Requirements Are Uncertain 19 Need for the OMV Chapter 3 21 Estimated OMV Costs Program Costs Have Grown Substantially 21 Further Cost Increases Are Likely 23 Have Continued to OMV Operational Costs 26 Increase Chapter 4 27 Conclusions, Conclusions Recommendation and Agency Action 27 27 Recommendation, Matter for Congressional Consideration 28 Matter for Agency Comments 28 Congressional Consideration, and Agency Comments Appendix Appendix I: Major Contributors to This Report 30 Tables Table 2.1: Status of Major OMV Performance 14 Requirements Table 2.2: Costs of Options for Reboosting HST and AXAF 18 Observatories Table 3.1: Changes in OMV Cost Estimates 21 Table 3.2: Potential Additional OMV Acquisition Costs 26 Page 6 GAO/NSIALMO-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuver& Vehicle IFigures Figure 1.1: Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle 9 Abbreviations AXAF Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility GAO General Accounting Office HST Hubble Space Telescope NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration OMV Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Page 7 GAO/NSIAD9&192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 1 Irdmduction The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is developing the Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (OMV) to supplement the space shuttle’s capability to deliver, retrieve, and service satellites, The OMVis to pro- vide the capability to transport satellites to and from the shuttle’s cargo bay and other orbital altitudes and inclination9 and to reboost the satel- lites when their altitudes decay. Other capabilities are to include viewing satellites to help diagnose their condition and controlling the reentry of satellites into the earth’s atmosphere when their useful lives expire. ‘Orbital altitude is a satellite’s height abovethe earth. Inclination is the angleof the satellite’sorbit relative to the earth’s equator. Page 9 GAO/NSIAD-99-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle . . .-- . chapter 1 Introduction Figure The OMV is to be a remotely controlled, free-flying vehicle. It will be * about 16 feet in diameter and 6 feet thick and will weigh 19,200 pounds with a full load of fuel. Page 9 GAO/NSIAJJ-90-192 NASA’s Orbital Maueuveriug Vehicle chnptmr Introduction The OMV is to have three propulsion systems: a main propulsion system to provide the vehicle’s primary thrust, a reaction control system to pro- vide the control needed to maneuver and guide the vehicle, and a cold gas system to propel the vehicle when it is operating close to satellites that are very sensitive to contamination. The OMV will have its own thermal, electrical, guidance, navigation, control, data management, and communications subsystems. The OMV is designed to be carried to orbit inside the shuttle’s cargo bay. Onceseparated from the shuttle, it will be remotely controlled by astronauts working at consoles on earth. In a typical satellite reboost mission, the OMV will first be removed from the cargo bay by the shuttle’s remote manipulator arm. After the shuttle moves a safe distance from the OMV, the ground-based OMV operators will remotely ignite the vehicle’s propulsion system and provide the com- mands needed to guide it to the general area of its target satellite. Upon arrival at the approximate rendezvous area-about 3 miles behind and 1 mile below the target-the OMV’S on-board radar will seek the precise satellite location. When the OMV is about 1,000 feet from its target, a television camera and floodlights aboard the vehicle will be switched on, and the earth-baaed operators will begin a slow docking maneuver. Just before docking, the relative speed between the vehicle and its target sat- ellite will be extremely slow-perhaps only an inch or less per second. Once docking is accomplished, the operators can guide the OMV and the satellite to its destination and then return the OMV to the shuttle. After each mission, the shuttle will return the OMV to earth, where it will be refurbished and stored for use on future flights. With refurbishment, the OMV is expected to last 10 years. The OMV'S conceptual design has evolved over a number of years. NASA Program History planned to use its predecessor, the Teleoperator Retrieval System, to reboost Skylab to a safe orbit, but it terminated the program in 1978 when Skylab reentered the earth’s atmosphere earlier than expected. NASA then redefined the concept to make the vehicle more versatile. From 1983 through 1985, NASA and three contractors conducted studies and analyses to define a preliminary design for the OMV. The detailed design and development phase began in November 1986 when NASA selected TRW, Incorporated, as the OMV prime development contractor. The cost-plus-award-fee contract with TRW provides for the design, development, test, verification, and delivery of one OMV flight Page 10 GAO/NSIAJHO-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 1 vehicle and associated support equipment. It also includes mission sup- port for the OMV’S development test flight and refurbishment of the vehicle following that flight. The contract contains options for produc- tion of a second OMV flight vehicle and mission support for up to nine additional OMV flights. In mid-1989, TRW notified NASA that it anticipated overrunning negoti- ated contract costs. Following the disclosure, NASA decided to restructure the program. Both TRW and NASA strengthened program management and reduced the scope of the development contract to lessen cost and technical risks. The scope reductions simplified the vehicle’s design but also reduced its planned capabilities. In addition, NASA and TRW agreed in principle to change the contract fee structure. The contract originally provided for a base fee and a variable award fee determined by NASA'S periodic evaluations of TRW’s contract performance. The parties had agreed to eliminate the base fee and make all future fee payments con- tingent on NASA's periodic award fee evaluations. The conversion of the contract to an all award-fee contract was never officially finalized. NASA also decided to revise the program schedule, stretching the devel- opment program out by 18 months because of fiscal year 1990 and 1991 funding limits. The OMV’S first launch, originally planned for April 1990, was scheduled for April 1995. estimated that OMV development would cost $736.6 million, Program Costs NASA Through fiscal year 1990, the Congress has appropriated $246.6 million. NASA requested another $86.4 million for OMV in its fiscal year 1991 budget. The OMV is being developed under NASA's Office of Space Flight. The Program Management Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA'S lead center, is responsible for total OMV program management. Marshall is also responsible for the design, development, test, and evaluation of the OMV flight vehicle and its ground support equipment, airborne support equipment, payload accom- modations equipment, and ground control console. The Johnson Space Center is responsible for activities associated with integrating the OMV and its payloads into the space shuttle and for OMV flight operations. The Kennedy Space Center is responsible for launch and landing activities. Page 11 GAO/NSLUWJ-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 1 Introduction We reviewed the OMVprogram at the request of the Chairman, House Objectives, Scope,and Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Our objectives were to Methodology determine (1) whether NASA had established a firm need for the OMVand (2) why the program’s costs had increased. To determine if NASA had established a firm need for the OMV,we reviewed NASA studies, reports, and briefings that addressed uses for and alternatives to the OMV.We discussed potential uses and benefits of the vehicle with OMVprogram officials at NASA Headquarters, Marshall Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, and TRW. We also inter- viewed managers of NASAand Department of Defense programs identi- fied as potential OMVusers to determine their requirements for the vehicle and other alternatives for accomplishing the missions. These included officials of the Hubble Space Telescope, Advanced X-ray Astro- physics Facility, Gamma Ray Observatory, Satellite Servicing System, Space Station Freedom, Earth Observing System, Waves in Space Plasma, Mars/Lunar Initiative, Shuttle-C, and Survivable Power Sub- system programs. To determine the reasons for program cost growth, we reviewed internal NASAprogram, contract, and budget documents and contractor cost reports. We also discussed the reasons for cost growth with NASAand TRW program officials. We reviewed the OMVprogram from August 1989 through April 1990 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Page 12 GAO/NSIAD-90-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chap&- 2 N& Has Not Establisheda F’irm Need for the OMV NASA does not need the OMV to accomplish the primary missions for which it was designed. In late 1989, NASA reduced or eliminated a number of the vehicle’s planned capabilities to contain growing costs. The designated missions of the OMV were to reboost the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and deploy and reboost the Advanced X-ray Astro- physics Facility (AXAF). NASA can accomplish these missions with the shuttle at less cost than the continued development and operation of the OMV. Furthermore, requirements for other potential missions using the OMV are uncertain, and most of these missions cannot be completed with the currently configured OMV. As originally conceived, the OMV was to be used as a multipurpose space Program Restructuring tug for a number of satellites. It was to transport payloads or satellites ReducedOMV’s to and from the shuttle or space station and other orbits, reboost them Capabilities when their orbits decayed, retrieve and return them when they malfunc- tioned, examine payloads to help determine whether and why they mal- functioned, and control their reentry into the atmosphere when their useful lives expired. In 1989 NASA restructured the program to contain escalating costs. Many of the OMV'S planned capabilities were reduced or eliminated in the restructuring. NASA was designing the OMV in such a way that these capabilities could be restored later, if needed. Table 2.1 shows the major OMV performance characteristics and the effects of the restructuring. Page 12 GAO/NSIAD@O-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle chapter 2 NASA Iiae Not Established a Nrm Need for the OMV Table 2.1: Status of Major OMV Performance Requirements Performance requirement Eliminated Reduced Unchanged Miarlonr Deliver payloads Retrieve payloads Reboost payloads Deboost payloadsa View payloadsb X OMV Basing and Control Shuttle based X Space station based X Space basedC X Ground controlled X Station controlled X Automatic navigation to payloads X Manned control during final docking X OMV Operations Cold gas propulsiond X Low “G” trajectorye X Contingency return of payloads X Accommodation of various enhancements X Payload Accommodations Provide limited resources to payloads X Spoint docking system X 1-point docking system X OMV Maintenance On-orbit maintenance X lo-vear refurbishment X %eboost - controlling the angle and location at which a satellite reenters the Earth’s atmosphere. bViewing flying around satellites to examine them for possible malfunctions QMV was to have been capable of parking in orbit for up to 9 months between missions. dCold gas propulsion is needed to avoid contaminating some payloads, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. *Low “G” trajectory means very low acceleration Scaling down the OMV’S capabilities limited the missions it would be able to accomplish. Because of changes in its propulsion, electrical power, and guidance systems, the OMV would not be able to deliver, retrieve, or reboost payloads as far as originally planned. It would not be able to deboost as large a payload as originally planned. Page 14 GAO/NSIAD-W-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle chapter 2 NASA Ham Not Ekablished a F’im~ Need for the OMV The reductions were most dramatic in the delivery and deboost mis- sions. For example, the distance the OMV could transport a 3,500-pound satellite in an initial delivery mission was reduced by 60 percent.1 The shuttle alone can deliver large payloads into space more efficiently, according to a recent assessment by the Johnson Space Center. This study showed that the shuttle can deliver payloads weighing more than 9,000 pounds to higher orbits than the shuttle-oMv combination could deliver them. With the combined weight of a payload and the 19,200-pound OMV, the shuttle’s initial orbiting altitude will be lower, and the reduced-capability OMV would not be able to make up for the lower shuttle altitude. Also, the reduced-capability OMV would not be able to control the reentry of large payloads, whose fall to earth may present a safety hazard. The full-capability OMV was expected to be able to deboost payloads weighing up to 75,000 pounds; the reduced-capability OMV would not be able to deboost payloads weighing more than 15,000 pounds. NASA cur- rently has no requirement to deboost payloads weighing less than 16,000 pounds, since objects of this size and smaller normally burn up during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere, according to the NASA head- quarters OMV Program Manager. NASA would not be able to base the reduced-capability OMV at Space Sta- tion Freedom and control it from that location or to leave the vehicle in space between missions. Therefore, the OMV would have to be trans- ported to and from each mission on the shuttle. The reduced-capability OMV would not be able to automatically navigate to its payload as was originally planned. Ground controllers would have to guide it during the entire flight sequence. As a result, the time needed to track a target payload increased from 6 minutes to about 3 hours. Two additional ground-based flight controllers would be needed to gen- erate data for the tracking, The reduced-capability vehicle would not be able to provide resources such as communications or power to its payloads except for rare instances when payloads would be hard-wired to the OMV. Also, one of two planned docking mechanisms was eliminated from the vehicle ‘The reduction was from 340 nautical milesto 136nautical miles,assuminga l-degreechangein the satellite’sorbital inclination. Page 16 GAO/NSIAD-99-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 2 NASA Has Not Established a Firm Need for the OMV design during the restructuring. As a result, the OMV would not be com- patible with some payloads that might be carried on the shuttle. Originally, the OMV was to have been repaired while in orbit by astro- nauts who would have worked from Space Station Freedom to remove and replace groups of components called “orbital replacement units.” The reduced-capability OMV would not have orbital replacement units. If it malfunctioned while in space, it would have to be returned to earth for repairs. According to NASA officials, the OMV was designed so that capabilities eliminated in the restructuring could be restored to the vehicle if they were needed, Space would be reserved in the vehicle to restore the capa- bilities, and any needed couplings would be built. The reduced-capability OMV is being designed primarily to deploy the OMV Not Needed for AXAF and reboost the AXAF and HST as their orbits decay. Recent NASA Scheduled Missions studies show, however, that the vehicle is not needed to perform these missions. The cost of using only the shuttle for these missions is lower than the cost of continued development and operation of the OMV. Shuttle Can Deliver AXAF Under NASA's current schedule, the shuttle will be able to deploy the Without OMV AXAF observatory without OMV'S assistance. Advanced solid rocket motors needed for the shuttle to deliver the AXAF to its required altitude are scheduled to be available more than a year before the planned 1997 launching of the observatory. To avoid having to reboost the AXAF for at least 6 years, NASA would like to deliver it to an initial orbital altitude of 320 nautical miles. Altitudes of large satellites in low earth orbit decay over time due to drag, which is influenced by activity on the sun. The observatories’ abilities to col- lect scientific data could be adversely affected if their orbits are allowed to get too low, especially during periods of high solar activity. As a result, NASA expects that the observatories may have to be reboosted to higher orbits from time to time. However, at an initial altitude of 320 nautical miles, NASA estimates that it should not be necessary to reboost the AXAF during its first 6 years on orbit. NASA officials once believed that the OMV was needed to get the AXAF to an altitude of 320 nautical miles. With its current solid rocket motors, the shuttle will not be able to deliver the 32,800-pound AXAF to an Page 16 GAO/NSIAD90-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle NASA Haa Not Eetablished a Firm Need for the OMV orbital altitude higher than about 270 nautical miles. A February 1990 performance assessment by the Johnson Space Center showed, however, that the shuttle cannot carry both the AXAF and OMVinto orbit on the same flight. The assessment also showed that with the advanced solid rocket motors, expected to be available in December 1996, the shuttle can carry AXAF to an initial orbit of 320 nautical miles without the OMV. The OMVwill not be needed for AXAF deployment if the shuttle’s advanced solid rocket motors are available as scheduled. If NASAcannot maintain the schedule for the advanced solid rocket motors and they are not available when AXAF must be launched, NASA could launch the observatory on a shuttle with currently designed motors and boost it to a higher orbit later. Either the shuttle or the OMV could provide the boost. Without the OMV,two shuttle flights would be needed to boost AXAF to its desired altitude of 320 nautical miles; with the OMV,only one flight would be needed. If the OMVwere used, it could be carried into space prior to the AXAF being launched, or the OMVcould be launched after the AXAF deployment to boost the observatory to its desired orbit. However, the OMV'Scurrent design would have to be modi- fied to allow it to remain in space for several months. Shuttle Can Reboost Recent NASA studies show that the shuttle can reboost the HSTand AXAF Observatories at Lower observatories without the OMV.By reboosting the observatories a little during each scheduled maintenance visit, only one or two shuttle flights cost dedicated to reboosting the observatories should be required to keep them at sufficiently high altitudes even under worst-case conditions, according to the studies. The two dedicated shuttle flights would be less costly than continued OMVdevelopment and operation. NASA plans for the shuttle to revisit HSTand AXAF periodically to main- tain them and to replace their scientific instruments. Current plans are to revisit the HSTevery 3 years for maintenance and every 6 years for instrument replacement. One new scientific instrument is already under development and should be available for incorporation into the HSTin 1996. AXAF is to be revisited every 6 years for servicing and refurbishment. Two space studies show that the shuttle will be able to keep the obser- vatories at acceptable altitudes even without the OMV.According to a September 1989 Johnson Space Center study, the shuttle can reboost the HSTa little on each scheduled maintenance mission and keep it at a suffi- ciently high altitude through the turn of the century. If solar activity is Page 17 GAO/NSIAD-90492 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle chapter2 NASA Has Not Established a Firm Need for the OMV especially high near the turn of the century, one additional flight might be needed to reboost HSTto a sufficiently high altitude. However, according to the study, the telescope will not have to be reboosted if solar activity is at an average level. In a similar study completed in March 1990, NASA'S Office of Space Flight concluded that one or two additional shuttle flights might be required early in the next century to reboost the observatories without the OMV.One flight dedicated to reboosting AXAF would be needed in 2000 and one flight dedicated to reboosting HSTwould be needed in 2001. All other reboost requirements could be accomplished during planned maintenance and refurbishment missions. These two shuttle flights are a less costly way of reboosting the observa- tories than continued development and operation of the OMV.The mar- ginal costs of two shuttle flights in fiscal years 2000 and 2001 together with the cost of terminating the OMVprogram would be about $277 mil- lion The cost of completing the OMVdevelopment, conducting the devel- opment test flight, storing the vehicle at Kennedy, and operating it for the two flights would cost over two and one-half times that amount-an estimated $716 million. The two estimates are shown in table 2.2. Table 2.2: Costs of Options for Aoboorting HST and AUF Dollars in millions Observatorler Cost category Shuttle only Shuttle with OMV Complete OMV developmant a $529.50b OMV termination cost $79.40 Shuttle flight for OMV development test (1995)” a 77.50 OMV storage (1996-99) ’ a 17.60 Shuttle fliaht to reboost AXAF (2OOOY 96.60 a OMV flight to reboost AXAF ’ ’ a 44.88 Shuttle flight to reboost HST (2001) 100.95 a OMV flight to reboost HST a 46.90 Total $276.95 $716.38 ‘Not applicable bThe current cost estimate to complete OMV development is $736.5 million less costs expected to be incurred through June 30, 1990, ($207 million). ‘The shuttle flight costs are the marginal cost of a 1995 flight, the last year for which NASA has pro- jected shuttle flight costs, Marginal costs are the incremental costs for adding one additional shuttle flight in each of the years. These costs do not include fixed costs associated with shuttle flights, which NASA will incur whether or not additional flights are undertaken. Page 18 GAO/NSIAWO-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter2 NASA Hae Not Eetnbliahed a Finn Ned for the OMV According to NASA'S Office of Space Flight, the OMVis needed not only for Future Mission delivery and reboost of HSTand A&IF but also as a part of the nation’s Requirements Are overall space transportation infrastructure. However, NASA has not yet Uncertain decided to undertake any of the missions it has identified as potential applications for the OMV. Furthermore, the currently configured OMV would not be able to perform the missions even if they were approved. The potential missions include (1) carrying supplies and materials from expendable launch vehicles to Space Station Freedom, (2) serving as the propulsion module for the station’s assured crew return vehicle, (3) transporting equipment and supplies from expendable launch vehi- cles to the station’s Polar Orbiting Platform, (4) transporting automated satellite servicing equipment, and (6) providing a contingency capability in the event of another shuttle accident. Using expendable launch vehicles with the OMVto resupply Space Sta- tion Freedom would reduce requirements for the space shuttle, according to officials of NASA’s Unmanned Launch Vehicles and Upper Stages Branch of the Office of Space Flight. The OMVcould be used to transfer the supplies from the expendable launch vehicles, which would be parked 20 nautical miles away, to the station. Similarly, the OMV could be used to transfer to and from the station materials needed for any manned missions to the moon and Mars. According to NASA, the OMV would have to be modified so that it could be based either at the station or in space, and the amount of propellant it could carry would have to be increased to accomplish these missions. Neither of the missions has been approved. NASA currently plans to use the manned shuttle to resupply all of the station’s needs. No decision has been made on ways to accomplish any manned missions to the moon and Mars. Also, NASA may have alternatives to using the OMVfor these missions. At least one firm is interested in providing commercial launch services for station resupply. This firm maintains that it could deliver the supplies and materials to the station. The OMVdevelopment contractor has proposed using the OMVto return a crew from Space Station Freedom to Earth in an emergency. Hovever, the OMV'Sdesign would have to be modified to permit the vehicle to be based at Freedom and to increase its propulsion capabilities. NASA is cur- rently studying various ways of returning crews from Freedom but does not plan to select a crew return vehicle design until 1994. According to OMVprogram officials, the OMVcould be used with expend- able launch vehicles to resupply the polar orbiting platform, which is planned as part of NASA's Earth Observing System. However, according Page 19 GAO/NSIAB9O-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 2 NASA HM Not Ertabllshed a Firm Need for the OMV to a program official, it would not be cost-effective to design the polar orbiting platform so that it could be resupplied. Even if NASAlater decided to include the capability to resupply the polar orbiting platform in its design, the currently configured OMVcould not be used in the resupply operation. The OMVwould have to be modified to make it com- patible with expendable launch vehicles and enable it to be based in space or at the platform. Also, another OMVwould have to be purchased for this mission, since the space shuttle cannot go to polar orbit, and the OMVcould therefore not be retrieved from the platform. The OMV might also be used to transport automated satellite servicing equipment if development of that equipment is approved. NASA is cur- rently studying designs that would enable it to maintain satellites in orbit by robotically replacing component modules and refueling the satellites. If developed, the satellite servicing system could be attached to the OMV.However this system is not expected to be available before 2000, potential servicing missions have not been defined, and robotically serviceable satellites do not currently exist. Also, the OMV'Sdesign would have to be modified to enable it to be used with the satellite servicing system. OMVprogram officials also have stated that the vehicle could be used if the shuttle were to become incapacitated. For example, the OMVand expendable launch vehicles could resupply the station if the shuttle were not available for a long period. However, the OMVwould have to be modified so that it could be launched on an expendable launch vehicle. Page 20 GAO/NSIAD-99-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 3 Estimated OMV CostsHave Continued to Increase OMV's estimated costs have substantially increased due to schedule stretch-outs, program content changes, and contract cost growth. Fur- ther increases are likely because the OMV is in an early stage of develop- ment, reserves to cover future program changes are less than NASA normally includes in its estimates, and system enhancements are needed for OMV to perform some of its potential missions. Program acquisition costs could also increase to about $1.3 billion if NASA restores the capa- bilities eliminated from the OMV’S design, purchases a second vehicle, makes the two vehicles compatible with expendable launch vehicles, and purchases an initial contingent of spare parts. NASA has not yet prepared a complete estimate of operational phase costs but has estimated the costs of certain specific missions. Since OMV development was approved in 1986, estimated program costs Program Costs Have have increased about 82 percent, from $406.0 million to $736.6 million. Grown Substantially At the same time, the vehicle’s capabilities have been significantly reduced. The program estimate would have been about $890.0 million if NASA had not reduced the estimate by about $164.0 million by elimi- nating some of the OMV'S capabilities and paring cost reserves. Table 3.1 shows the cost changes. Table 3.1: Changes in OMV Cost Eatlmates Dollars in Millions Cost changes Amount Increases Schedule stretch-outs $256.1 Program changes 105.9 Contract cost growth 123.1 Subtotal of increases $485.1 Decreases Reduced technical capabilities -$81.5 Reduced cost reserves - 72.1 Subtotal of reductions - 153.6 Net chanae $331.5 According to NASA, schedule stretch-outs resulting from internally imposed budget cuts are the primary cause of the cost increases to date. NASA has reduced the OMV budget in each of the last 4 years to fund higher priority programs. The budget reductions meant that work had to be postponed and the development program delayed. The stretch-outs Page 21 GAO/NSIAIH&192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 2 Estlmatid OMV Costs Have Continued to Increase have added 6 years to the OMV'S development program. The schedule for the vehicle’s first flight slipped from April 1990 to April 1996. Schedule stretch-outs increased OMV costs over $266 million. According to NASA and TRW officials, the primary lesson to be learned from the OMV program is that a project started without a firm, near-term requirement is likely to “become the bank” for programs with more immediate funding needs. Because no other program is dependent on the availability of OMV, NASA reduced its budget and stretched out develop- ment to provide more funds for other, more urgently needed programs. Program changes added about $106 million to estimated costs. A pri- mary change was associated with moving responsibility for OMV opera- tions from the Marshall Space Flight Center to the Johnson Space Center. When the program was initially approved, the Marshall Space Flight Center was assigned responsibility for both development and operations. Soon after the contract was signed, however, NASA decided to shift responsibility for OMV operations to the Johnson Space Center. Officials at Johnson concluded that developing the hardware and software for OMV operations and operator training would cost about $69 million more than previously estimated. Various other program changes added another $37 million to the estimate. These included, for example, changes resulting from the vehicle’s preliminary design review. Contract cost growth accounts for an increase of over $123 million, of which $76 million was for the prime contractor’s work and $48 million was for estimated subcontract costs. According to the previous OMV Pro- gram Manager, TRW’s original contract price of $212 million underesti- mated OMV development costs. TRW agreed that its original contract price was too low because it had made optimistic assumptions. For example, TRW had assumed that it would not have to develop unique components for the OMV but instead could use some off-the-shelf hard- ware. TRW also believed that the frequency of OMV schedule changes contributed to its inability to estimate prices. The program cost estimate would have been even higher if it had not been offset in part by contract scope reductions in 1989 and reductions in cost reserves. The reductions in scope included simplifying the OMV'S design and decreasing its planned capabilities. Spare parts and some tests and documentation were also deleted. In addition, NASA also reduced the amount of reserves contained in the estimate to absorb Page 22 GAO/NSIAD99-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 3 Estimated OMV Costa Have Continued to Increaee future cost increases. The estimate just prior to the program restruc- turing contained reserves equal to about 34 percent of the future devel- opment costs. Reserves in the current estimate are equal to about 16 percent of the remaining development costs. OMVcosts will likely continue to rise, especially if NASAis to make max- F’urther Cost Increases imum use of the vehicle. The program is still in an early design phase, Are Likely and reserves to cover future cost increases are significantly less than _. NASAnormally includes in its program cost estimates. Further, to com- plete some potential missions, NASAwould have to modify the OMVby restoring some capabilities previously deleted and adding a new capa- bility-delivery of the OMVby expendable launch vehicles. NASAmay also have to purchase an additional vehicle and the spare parts needed for maintenance. Adequacy of Cost Reserves The OMVdevelopment program is less than half complete, and those same factors that caused cost increases in the past could also cause future cost increases. The $736.6 million estimate includes a $72.6 mil- lion reserve to absorb future cost increases, but that amount is only about half the amount NASA normally budgets for programs at this stage in development, according to the Chief of the Cost and Economic Analysis Branch, NASAComptroller. The OMVprogram could experience more of the same type of budget cuts that have already caused schedule stretch-outs and added $266.1 mil- lion to the program’s cost. NASA’sAssociate Administrator for Space Flight told the Subcommittee on Space Science and Applications, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, in February 1990 that if NASAhas to make budget cuts in fiscal year 1991, the “OMV would not be immune to its fair share of the cuts.” In this regard, NASA’sfiscal year 1991 budget request of $16.1 billion represents a 23-percent increase over fiscal year 1990, and the agency projects that its budget require- ments will increase by another 17 percent in fiscal year 1992 and an additional 10 percent in fiscal year 1993. With projected increases of this magnitude, cuts in NASA’S budget requests are a distinct possibility as Congress attempts to address the deficit and other pressing fiscal issues over the next several years, More design changes are also to be expected. The program’s critical design review is not scheduled until April 199 1. Following the design review, the contractor will begin hardware fabrication and testing. Page 23 GAO/NSIA.WKJ-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter8 WlnWed OMV Caeta Have Continued to Increaee Design changes are to be expected as a result of the design review and fabrication and testing activities. According to the Chief of NASA's Cost and Economic Analysis Branch, most cost increases occur during a pro- gram’s hardware fabrication and testing phases. According to this offi- cial, it is not unusual for development programs to take longer than planned because of problems identified during testing of complex com- ponents such as electronic assemblies1 Extending a program increases its cost. Other contract cost increases are also possible, particularly in subcon- tracts. Subcontract costs in the $736.6 million estimate, are for the most part not based on negotiated prices or firm proposals from the subcon- tractors. Through February 1990, firm prices had been negotiated for only about 66 percent of the subcontracts. Also, TRW did not have pro- posals from subcontractors detailing the cost impact of the most recent program stretch-out. According to Marshall’s Deputy OMV Project Man- ager, NASA believes that the current estimate for subcontracts is ade- quate, but it cannot be certain of that until firm proposals are received and negotiated. The $72.6 million cost reserve included in the estimate is less than half the amount NASA normally includes in program estimates prior to critical design review. The reserve, or allowance for program adjustment, is intended to absorb cost increases that may occur in the future. According to the Chief of NASA’s Cost and Economic Analysis Branch, NASA would normally include in the estimate a cost reserve equal to about 30 percent of future costs for such a complex program prior to its critical design review. The OMV reserve is only about 16 percent of future costs. According to the Deputy OMV Project Manager, when NASA restructured the development program in 1989, it reduced the OMV’s cost and tech- nical risk, The Deputy Project Manager concluded that, in total, the cost reserves would be adequate, but amounts available in fiscal years 1990 and 1991 would be marginal. If costs were to increase significantly in these years, work would have to be deferred and the schedule might have to be delayed again. ‘There is a 4-monthcushionbuilt into the OMVprogramto accommodate schedulechangesduring the fabrication and testing phase. Page 24 GAO/NSJAD-90-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chaptar 8 Ibtlmated OMV Costa Have C!ontinued tosncreaee Future Program NASA is considering purchasing an additional vehicle, restoring capabili- Enhancements ties, and modifying the OMVS to make them compatible with expendable launch vehicles. According to preliminary NASA estimates, these actions, \ together with an initial contingent of spare parts for the two vehicles and a spare propulsion module could add another $640.6 million to the OMV'sacquisition cost, raising the total for two OMVS to about $1.3 bil- lion. NASA considered that the additional costs, if required, would be a part of the vehicle’s operational, rather than the developmental pro- gram. Table 3.2 shows the potential additional acquisition costs. Tablo 3.2: Potontlrl Addltlonrl OMV AcqulWon Corta Dollar5 in millions Cart Category Cort Restored capabilities $112.7 Second OMV 303.8 ExPendable launch vehicle comoatibilitv 25.2 Spare parts 69.3 Spare propulsion module 29.6 Total 5540.6 Modifying the OMV would cost about $112.7 million, according to a pre- liminary NASA estimate. This estimate assumes that the OMV would be modified to restore its full capabilities after NASA purchased a second OMV with full capabilities. Another $26.0 million would be needed to design, develop, and qualify the modifications if NASA did not purchase a second vehicle. NASA estimated that a second, full capability OMV could be purchased for about $303.8 million if production of the vehicle were authorized for fiscal year 1993. The vehicle would be delivered in May 1998. Modifying the two OMVS to make them compatible with expendable launch vehicles such as the Titan IV would cost an estimated $26.2 mil- lion. Purchasing the initial contingent of spare parts and components needed to maintain the vehicles would cost another $69.3 million’ between fiscal years 1993 and 1996. A spare propulsion module, which might be needed if the OMV were based at Space Station Freedom, would cost an estimated $29.6 million. NASA considers it unlikely that it would do all of these things. The agency described them as “an accumulation of various possible options Page 25 GAO/NSIAMMl-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuveriug Vehicle 1 clubptewa Eetlmati OMV Coats Have Cbntintwd to Imrease that represent a worst case scenario that probably would never materialize.” Because of uncertainty about when and for what purposes the OMV OMV Operational would be used, NASAhas not prepared a comprehensive estimate of OMV costs operations costs. Instead, the agency estimated operation costs for two alternative mission scenarios. Both scenarios involve reboosting the HSTin mid-1996 and boosting the AXAF to its desired altitude when it is deployed in 1997. In the first sce- nario, the OMV would be carried into space and left there to await AXAF deployment. In the second scenario, the AXAF would be launched first and the OMVbrought up later to boost the observatory to its final alti- tude. NASAestimated that the first scenario would cost about $90.1 mil- lion, while the second would cost about $81.7 million. Both estimates include costs to (1) store the OMVfollowing its 1995 test flight; (2) remove the OMV from storage, prepare it for launch, and reboost the HSTwith it in June 1996; (3) refurbish the OMVfollowing the HSTreboost; (4) launch and operate the OMVto boost AXAF to its final destination in 1997; and (5) refurbish the OMVand place it in storage to await some future mission. The primary difference between the two estimates is that the first scenario includes the cost of adding gallium arsenide solar arrays to equip the OMVfor space basing. NASAalso estimated the annual recurring cost of storing the OMVbetween missions and the operation cost for a typical reboost mission. Both of these estimates are in constant fiscal year 1990 dollars, since it is not known when the reboost mission would occur or how long the vehicle would have to be stored between missions. NASAestimated that $3.2 mil- lion a year would be needed to store the OMVand that an additional $28.9 million would be needed for a typical reboost mission.2 ‘2OMV stmagemd operatkmeshown in table 2.2on page21 are basedon theseestimates,but the amountsin the table include an allowancefor future inflation of 4.6 percenta year for eachyear after 1990. Page 26 GAO/NSIAIHO-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Chapter 4 Conclusions,Recommendation,Matter for CongressionalConsideration,and Agency Comments NASAhas not adequately justified or established a need for the OMV,The Conclusions vehicle’s two scheduled missions can be accomplished by other means that cost less. Furthermore, although NASAhas identified other potential missions for the vehicle, these missions have not been approved and no requirements have yet been firmly established for them. Even if these missions were approved, the OMVwould have to be modified, at addi- tional cost, before it could be used for them. Because NASAhas not had a firm need for the OMV,it has been a target for budget cuts that have proved to be costly to the OMVprogram. Faced with more pressing needs and not enough funds, NASAofficials have reduced the program’s funding in each of the last 4 years to fund higher priority programs that had firmer requirements. Most of the OMV’S cost increase can be attributed to schedule delays. Further cost increases are likely, especially if NASAis to make maximum use of the vehicle. Schedule delays, program changes, and cost growth have already caused development costs to nearly double. These same factors could cause further increases, since it is still early in the OMV'S development stage, and reserves to cover future cost increases are only about half the amount NASAnormally budgets in cost estimates of sim- ilar programs. Also, OMV program acquisition costs could increase to $1.3 billion if NASAdecides to (1) restore all of the vehicle’s originally planned capabilities, (2) purchase an additional vehicle, (3) make the two vehicles compatible with expendable launch vehicles, and (4) purchase an initial contingent of spare parts. A primary lesson learned from the OMVprogram is that a development program should not be started before a firm requirement is established. Once started, the program should be funded so that it can be conducted expeditiously and efficiently. In our draft report we recommended that the Administrator terminate Recommendation and the OMVprogram. NASAestimated that it had already spent $199.4 mil- Agency Action lion on the program through June 6,1990, and that an additional $79.4 million1 would be required for termination. However, the remaining $460.1 million cost to complete the development and any additional ‘The $79.4million required for termination includes$46.2million in fiscal year 1990funds and $33.2million in fiscal year 1991funds. Page 27 GAO/NSIAD-90-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle chapter 4 Conclruioru, Reconunendation, Matter for cOngreaaional ~nsideration, and Agency Cemnwnta costs for restoring capabilities eliminated in the 1989 restructuring, pro- curing a second vehicle, and operating the vehicles would be avoided if the program were terminated. NASA terminated the OMV program and instructed TRW to cease all work under the contract 6 days after receiving our draft report. The agency cited budgetary pressures and the lack of a firm, near-term requirement for the vehicle as reasons for the termination. The Congress should deny the $86.4 million requested for OMV develop- Matter for ment in fiscal year 1991, less any amount needed for termination Congressional expenses. According to a preliminary NASA estimate, about $33.2 million Co&deration of fiscal year 1991 funding will be needed for termination. We incorporated NASA’S comments into this report where appropriate. Agency Comments Page 28 GAO/NSIAD-90-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Page 29 GAO/NSIAD99-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle Appendix I , Major Contributors to This Report Charles Rey, Assistant Director National Security and , James Morrison Evaluator International Affairs Division, Washington, DC. Lee Edwards, Evaluator-in-Charge Atlanta Regional Mark Lambert, Site Senior Karen Lindsey; Evaluator (897001) Page 30 GAO/NSLAD-99-192 NASA’s Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle _..__- ~I” .I I_ “11 -.,_l ..- . .._. -..-” -... -.-... .._-_.... -. __....... -..-- ..__. -_--~ --_-----_- -- - -I-- -.I..I ._-..“.I” *11-11 . ..I-. .l._---..l-_- -l”..l”.“l-l--~ll”l.“,~~l *--lll-_.-“.“-“-l~--lll- “l.l.---_.---.l~ ----------%:- Firs t-(:I;tss Mai 1 I’c)st~~gt~ 81 Fws hit1 (iA0 I’t~rmit, No. (; 100
Space Transportation: NASA Has No Firm Need for Increasingly Costly Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-07-31.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)