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NASA The Almighty Buck Government Space

NASA Inspector Says Agency Wasted $80 Million On An Inferior Spacesuit (arstechnica.com) 76

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: When NASA began developing a rocket and spacecraft to return humans to the Moon a decade ago as part of the Constellation Program, the space agency started to think about the kinds of spacesuits astronauts would need in deep space and on the lunar surface. After this consideration, NASA awarded a $148 million contract to Oceaneering International, Inc. in 2009 to develop and produce such a spacesuit. However, President Obama canceled the Constellation program just a year later, in early 2010. Later that year, senior officials at the Johnson Space Center recommended canceling the Constellation spacesuit contract because the agency had its own engineers working on a new spacesuit and, well, NASA no longer had a clear need for deep-space spacesuits. However, the Houston officials were overruled by agency leaders at NASA's headquarters in Washington, DC. A new report released Wednesday by NASA Inspector General Paul Martin sharply criticizes this decision. "The continuation of this contract did not serve the best interests of the agency's spacesuit technology development efforts," the report states. In fact, the report found that NASA essentially squandered $80.6 million on the Oceaneering contract before it was finally ended last year.
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NASA Inspector Says Agency Wasted $80 Million On An Inferior Spacesuit

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've seen how oceaneering put together my submarine, I wouldn't trust the spacesuit. fortunately leaks on a submarine are livable, leaks in a spacesuit are probably not.

  • by sad_ ( 7868 )

    ...could have been much worse, like for example wasting money on building a wall or something silly like that.

  • Still better than (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Thursday April 27, 2017 @06:35AM (#54311721)
    ... continuing the project, and paying $200 million for a space suit that nobody needs.

    Here the NASA looks for a bunch of idiots for obviously wasting $80 million. Lots of people in management positions would have found a way so that nobody can claim it was _obviously_ wasteful, even if it costs more money. So have mercy on them, they could have wasted a lot lot more.
    • It probably took a lot of work to award that program, get it started, and perhaps a lot of good work was happening. Perhaps NASA though that either the Constellation Program might come back under some other name, or that the next political masters might go forward with it etc... They probably hoped that the project might be saved, so they kept the project on a low burn, risk managing the fact that the money might be wasted in the end, in an attempt to salvage the project. When the reviewed the project it pr

    • That employees a lot of people. And those people give like 20-30% of what paid back. Probably tried to keep the contract to keep those people their jobs, until they could maybe find something else to work on, or already were on something needed and underfunded, just under the spacesuit contract. The latter happens a lot.
  • One-sided article. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday April 27, 2017 @07:16AM (#54311831)

    I feel like there is some information missing from this claim, particularly, the rationale for which NASA HQ decided to continue the contract. NASA isn't known for making illogical decisions, so it stands to reason that there is a logical explanation that is missing from this article.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The stated rationale was that this was a technology development contract. So even if there wasn't an immediate need for the suits the R&D was still worth it.

      The unstated rationale was that this happened at a time when the economy was still struggling and the government was looking for excuses to inject money into it.

    • I'd bet my daughter it's pork barrel politics. That "agency leader" was where he was because of Oceaneering's brib^H^H^H^Hdonations.
    • The phrase "deep space suits are no longer needed" seems to give a clue. Maybe not RIGHT NOW, but I am sure at some point, it could be useful, maybe they wanted to finish up the blueprints for the suit so that it would be ready when they need it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2017 @07:24AM (#54311853)

    So about as much as it costs to keep Melania Trump in Trump Tower for about thirty days, or one-third of the Trump Regime so far.

    Rapunzel, let down your hair. Thank you.

    AC

  • Not wasted... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cmseagle ( 1195671 ) on Thursday April 27, 2017 @07:31AM (#54311867)
    Someone in congress got to campaign on a fat contract that they brought back to their constituency! Same reason parts of the space shuttle were manufactured all over the country, even though it's not even close to the most cost-effective strategy.
  • by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Thursday April 27, 2017 @08:04AM (#54311975) Homepage
    So $80M over the course of about 6 years is $13.3M/year. Out of an annual budget of $18.4B. That's 0.07% of the annual NASA budget. Okay, so somebody made a bad decision. Reprimand them, do what you have to internally to avoid such decisions in the future, and let's move on. It's not enough that anyone outside of NASA needs to get their undies in a bunch over. If you're looking for government waste to be outraged about I'm sure you can find something orders of magnitude higher than a failed R&D project.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by acoustix ( 123925 )

      If you're looking for government waste to be outraged about I'm sure you can find something orders of magnitude higher than a failed R&D project.

      It's things that like this over a very long period of time that got us the huge amount of debt we're in. The amount of bad spending doesn't matter - it is all very bad and it all contributes to the problem. Our current debt isn't just the fault of Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc... It is the fault of tens and hundreds of thousands of federal employees who misspent the taxpayers' money.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This is 100% wrong. The human attention span is finite and we only have only so many hours in a year we can dedicate to government accountability. You have to prioritize and pick your battles. The Social Security tax is the biggest revenue problem, and Military Spending, Medicare, and Medicaid are the biggest spending problems.

        People like to complain about defense spending programs like the Littoral Combat Ship but they ignore the savings that come from a reduction in manpower. If you can staff an aircraft

      • The federal employees are pawns though. In the end, procurement is decided by the politicians. Lobbyists for $corp donate to $pol. Coincidentally, shortly thereafter $pol has a great idea for $project where a certain $item is needed. $item happens to be produced by $corp. Contracts go out for bid, $corp is selected to the surprise of no one, despite the fact that $smallbiz could have done it for a fraction of the price, but $smallbiz does not have some $obscure_capability that can only be provided by O

    • 80$ million will buy your a F-35 hubcap
  • NASA didn't spend the money on an inferior suit. They spent it on an outside contractor's R&D which failed, somehow, to meet or surpass NASA's own in-house R&D.

    Now, why is that? Is there some reason that even with MASA and the contractor sharing personnel, somehow NASA's advancements weren't brought to the drawing board?

    At any rate, there are a surprising number of people who would consider wasting money on un needed and unused R&D to somehow constitute "purchase" of an object, a large number of

  • They've wasted $80 million on an inferior spacesuit. They should have spent more on spacesuit!

    Now where's that pooping spacesuit [theguardian.com] we've all been waiting for?

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