(Washington, DC) Today, U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) reacted to the release of a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on its assessment of NASA's progress in developing the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV).
The Ares I rocket is one of the first major development projects undertaken as part of NASA's Exploration initiative.
"GAO's assessment is a mix of good news and not-so-good news," said Gordon. "On the one hand, GAO has concluded that NASA is taking steps to demonstrate that the Ares I project is achievable within the constraints that the project faces. On the other hand, GAO has identified a number of significant challenges that will have to be overcome if the project is to succeed."
Gordon requested the GAO assessment as part of the Committee's ongoing oversight of NASA's Exploration initiative.
Among its findings, the GAO determined that "continued instability in the design of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CLV) is hampering the Ares I project's efforts to establish firm requirements, the aggressive J-2X upper stage engine development schedule is not synchronized with the rest of the project, and it is unclear if NASA has allocated sufficient funding to the project."
GAO recommended that "NASA establish a sound business case for Ares I before proceeding beyond preliminary design review (now set for July 2008), and if necessary, delay the preliminary design review until the project's readiness to move forward is demonstrated."
"The Administration has undertaken a major new Exploration initiative on a 'business as usual' budget, and that's going to make it difficult for NASA to succeed. The CEV and Ares I development projects will be important early tests of the Administration's approach, and the Committee will be actively monitoring the status of those projects over the coming months," added Gordon.
A copy of the GAO's report is attached. The report can also be found on the Committee's website by clicking here.