NASA’s inspector general on Thursday released a detailed report that investigates the time and money that the space agency has spent to develop its Orion spacecraft. This is the vehicle NASA hopes to use to fly its astronauts to and from lunar orbit as part of the Artemis Program.
Since NASA awarded its first contract on Orion in August 2006, the report says NASA has spent $16.7 billion for development of Orion, or about $1.1 billion annually. NASA has paid the lion’s share of those funds to Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for development of the Orion capsule. For this tally, the report does not include funding for Orion’s large Service Module, which is being built and delivered by the European Space Agency.
Most of the awards to Lockheed were conducted under a “cost-plus” contract structure, in which NASA is required to reimburse Lockheed for all allowable costs and, in addition, pay applicable award and incentive fees. Despite significant cost increases and schedule delays, Lockheed received nearly all available award fees, the report found. Those award fees struck NASA Inspector General Paul Martin as excessive.