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Inspector General: NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Continues to Face Technical, Safety Review Challenges

International Space StationNASA’s office of inspector general has found that the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program continues to encounter technical difficulties with contractors’ space vehicle designs that might delay the transport of crews to the International Space Station by more than three years.

NASA OIG said in an audit report published Thursday that it also found delays in the agency’s assessment and approval of requests for variances and hazard reports submitted by Boeing and SpaceX as part of the certification process.

NASA has also failed to track the timeliness of its process for safety reviews, according to the report.

OIG’s audit report, which is a follow-up to the November 2013 review of the Commercial Review Program, also revealed that NASA has decided to extend its contract with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, to bring astronauts to the ISS through 2018 at approximately $490 million in additional cost due to delays in the program.

The inspector general has asked NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations to enforce methods to monitor the timeliness of its review process.

NASA should also collaborate with SpaceX and Boeing to facilitate reviews of hazard reports and variance requests in a timely manner, the IG added.

The report also noted that NASA said it will continue to conduct weekly meetings with its two contractors to address such reports.

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