The coronavirus pandemic brought everything back one way or another. We put life on a year or more, just waiting for the vaccine to be developed, tested and introduced. On a personal level, we lost time with friends and family and lost a year of social experiences, vacations and lots of good times. Businesses and other organizations lost a lot of money. NASA, which has continued with various projects to the best of its ability, why it is trying to ensure staff are virus-free, has also lost a lot of money, and a new report reveals just how accurate it is.
As SpaceNews reports, a report released this week (PDF) by NASA’s Office of the Inspector General reveals the cost of the various downtimes the agency has already suffered, as well as the expected effects in the near future. Costs? A whopping $ 3 billion. Yes, that’s a billion with a “b”. Alas.
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The report provides a detailed breakdown of the various projects and programs NASA is currently working on and how much of an impact the pandemic has had on them. For example, the commercial crew program recorded a “minimal” impact of the pandemic, and SpaceX still managed to launch astronauts to the International Space Station not once, but twice in 2020, which was great. On the other hand, projects such as the James Webb Space Telescope, the Roman Nancy Grace Space Telescope, and the space launch system have suffered “significant” impacts.
A total of $ 1.6 billion of the approximately $ 3 billion in losses can be attributed to delays in the 30 “major programs and projects” listed in the review. The list below lists each program / project, along with the estimated cost impact attributed to the pandemic. For example, the costs associated with the International Space Station in FY2020. They were $ 1.8 million higher than they would have been otherwise. The agency believes a total of $ 18.9 million in future costs will also be linked to the pandemic.
Other programs – especially those still in development – have suffered significantly more significant cost reductions. For example, the space launch system absorbed $ 8 million in associated costs in FY2020., But will ultimately exceed the cost of approximately $ 355 million due to the pandemic. That’s a pretty big chunk of the program’s total cost of living of about $ 11 billion.
From a public-centered perspective, what is most expensive for NASA is time. So many programs have experienced pandemic-related delays that expected launch dates and other deadlines have been severely disrupted. The space agency, of course, can’t do anything different, and has already been forced by its engineers and scientists to manage missions like the Curiosity rover from their own homes to protect them from the health crisis.
In the future, we will keep our fingers crossed that these pandemic-related cost estimates are greater than the actual costs, and that these captivating missions will return to the right path sooner or later.
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