National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) absorbed most of its sequestration reductions by slowing its intended development of the Commercial Crew and Space Technology programs, according to NASA officials. This allowed NASA to maintain funding for commitments in programs that are fully under way. However, if sequestration continues, NASA may not be able to use this approach for future years without facing consequences in delaying projects with committed baselines. Specifically, NASA currently has only five major projects that have not established baselines and several of these are planned to be baselined this year, which would limit NASA's ability to avoid affecting projects with established commitments. Delaying milestones and testing for projects that have established cost and schedule baselines would likely lead to longer and more costly projects. In addition, according to NASA officials, additional funding cuts may result in NASA missing certain deadlines, such as the first launch for the Space Launch System program scheduled for December 2017. Furthermore, NASA would miss milestone payments in the Commercial Crew program and the resulting delays could prolong the nation’s reliance on Russia to transport crew to and from the International Space Station (ISS).