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Photo: NASA/JSC

Long-delayed NASA programs like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Space Launch System (SLS) mega-rocket could threaten the space agency’s future missions, like the Artemis program to send people back to the Moon by 2024, according to an independent report released May 30.

Why it matters: NASA is asking Congress for an extra $1.6 billion above its original budget request for fiscal year 2020 to jumpstart Artemis.

  • However, according to the report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), NASA can’t afford more delays with the SLS if they want to meet the Trump administration's 2024 deadline.
  • NASA plans to use the SLS as a key part of its plans for the Moon, with multiple launches of the rocket expected ahead of a human landing.

Details: According to the GAO report citing NASA officials, it’s “unlikely” the SLS will see its first flight in 2020, as the space agency expects. That said, NASA is planning to use some of the extra funding requested for Artemis to continue developing and testing the SLS.

  • The GAO criticized NASA's continued cost overruns with the JWST, for example. That telescope is now expected to cost nearly $10 billion, $2 billion more than initially projected.
  • “I think the fact that Webb has been such a poison pill in the middle of NASA’s program still stands out,” Logsdon said. “Particularly NASA robotic science is paying a very high price for the problems with Webb.”

Yes, but: NASA “generally agreed” with the recommendations made, according to the GAO. However, history suggests the space agency may not implement them fully.

  • “We’ve had some very basic recommendations that we’ve been pushing for the past 10 years at least, and they can still be adopted more by NASA,” the GAO’s Cristina Chaplain said in a podcast about the report.
  • Those recommendations include being more "realistic" about the cost and schedules of large programs, being sure to update them along the way.
  • The GAO has also recommended that NASA be sure to include reserves in the human spaceflight systems programs to manage risk and potential cost overruns.

Go deeper

Cuomo: "No way I resign" after sexual harassment accusations

Cuomo at a Feb. 24 press conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was defiant on Sunday, stating again that he would not resign even as more former aides have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

The big picture: Cuomo has denied all sexual harassment allegations against him and said that he "never inappropriately touched anybody." He acknowledged in a statement that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation." Some of the calls for Cuomo to resign have come from within the Democratic party.

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.