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NASA’s Space Launch System Software Is Behind Schedule And Over Budget, Report Finds

An internal audit found the software, which will be used in Mars missions, is 77% over budget and a year behind schedule.

[Image: NASA/MSFC]

An internal audit carried out by NASA’s inspector general has found that the in-house software the space agency is coding to be used in its Space Launch System, which aims to land astronauts on Mars by 2030, is way over budget and behind schedule, ABC News reports.

The software, which will be used to control and monitor all aspects of the SLS system, is now projected to exceed $207 million in development costs, the report found. That’s 77% higher than originally thought. The software was also expected to be completed by summer 2016, but now, the report says, its development won’t be completed until late 2017.

Due to these delays, the SLS software will skip over certain features in the current build, including "the ability to automatically detect the root cause of specific equipment and system failures." Because of the delays and feature shortcuts, the report recommend that NASA would be better off scrapping the project for the time being and instead use commercial space flight software like the kind SpaceX uses. However, the report admits NASA is unlikely to do that because of a "reluctance to change course [that] reflects a cultural legacy at NASA of over-optimism and over-promising what the agency can achieve in a specific timeframe."

Despite the software setback, the space agency has been making headways on the SLS overall. Earlier this month NASA announced that it successfully tested the first deep space rocket engine that will carry human occupants into deep space—including Mars.

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