US Space, Missile Defense Programs Lack Quality Control

Poor workmanship, undocumented and untested manufacturing processes, and parts complexity have led to significant cost overruns and schedule delays in US space and missile defense programs, reported the Government Accountability Office Thursday. All 21 Defense Department and NASA programs that GAO audited from October 2009 to May 2011 suffered from parts quality problems that led to many millions of dollars worth of cost increases, according to the office’s new report. The Air Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite program topped that list. Parts problems found during system-level testing of the first AEHF satellite forced officials to conduct a second round of thermal vacuum testing, delaying the spacecraft’s launch by nearly two years and costing at least an additional $250 million, according to the auditors. DOD partially concurred with GAO’s findings and agreed to address quality issues annually, including parts quality.