NASA’s Office of the Inspector General has released its 2020 report detailing the challenges facing the space agency and how they may shape the next few years. A total of seven challenges are listed, the first of which revolves around NASA’s ambitious goal to return humans to the moon in 2024. According to the report, you may not be able to meet this deadline.
The Office of the Inspector General of NASA is mandated under the Reporting Standardization Act of 2020 to independently assess the space agency’s biggest challenges, including those related to performance and management. This year’s assessment identified seven challenges:
1: The first woman and next man landed on the moon by 2024
2: Improving the management of major projects
3: Maintaining human presence in low Earth orbit
4: Attract and retain a highly skilled workforce
5: Improving control over contracts, grants and cooperation agreements
6: Managing and mitigating cybersecurity risks
7: Treating old infrastructure and facilities
Focusing on the first and biggest challenge, the assessment concluded that NASA “will be under severe pressure to land astronauts on the Moon by the end of 2024.” Indeed, the report indicates that NASA will need “stable and timely” funding as well as “robust, consistent and sustainable leadership” all the way from NASA to POTUS if it hopes to achieve this goal at any point near its “ambition” of 2024.
The NASA OIG report summarizes the reasons for its assessment:
For its part, NASA must determine the true long-term costs of its human exploration programs, establish realistic timelines, define system requirements and mission planning, form or establish international partnerships, and leverage commercial space capabilities. Over the past decade, our oversight work has found that NASA has consistently struggled to address each of these important issues, and an accelerated schedule of the Artemis mission is likely to exacerbate these challenges.
The full report can be downloaded from the NASA OIG website Here [PDF].