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Auditors Say NASA Doesn’t Have the Money for Big Rockets

The Government Accountability Office issued a report Wednesday saying NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System is at "high risk of missing" its initial test flight in 2017 due to a lack of money. The GAO report put the current shortfall at $400 million.

The GAO said it would cost $12 billion to get to the first test launch, and "potentially billions more to develop increasingly capable vehicles" that could be used for launches to asteroids and Mars. The report said NASA was "making solid progress" on the rocket design; however, launch system officials told the GAO there was a 90 percent chance of not hitting the launch date. This usually means NASA will have to delay its test launch date, get more money or be less ambitious about what it plans to do, said former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, space policy director at George Washington University. NASA says it's working on the problems GAO highlighted.

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— The Associated Press