Via Space Politics, there is a new CBO Report (PDF link) that games out several other options for Constellation / Space Shuttle / etc. This was a congressionally mandated report. The CBO expects NASA to experience cost growth, and thus lays out alternate scenarios from NASA’s official plans:
On the basis of the cost growth that has occurred in the past, CBO’s analysis indicates
that the costs of NASA’s development programs could grow by 50 percent, on average.
That analysis examined the performance of 72 of the agency’s past programs—65 per-
cent of which experienced less than 50 percent cost growth and 35 percent of which
experienced more (see Box 1). NASA’s budgetary plans include reserves in the
agency’s development programs that would allow cost growth of about 25 percent to
be accommodated. Because of the likelihood that NASA will not meets its planned
schedules if funded at its current level, CBO considered four alternative scenarios.
The scary one for science would be this:
Scenario 4: Absorb Cost Growth to Achieve Constellation’s Schedule by Reducing Funding for Science and Aeronautics
which means taking money from science (as in, half of it) and using that to contain the cost-overruns.
The other alternative scenarios are:
- Scenario 1: Keep Funding Fixed and Allow Schedules to Slip
- Scenario 2: Execute NASA’s Current Plans and Extend Operation of the Shuttle and Space Station
- Scenario 3: Achieve the Constellation Program’s Schedule and Allow the Science Schedule to Slip
The full report lays all this out in a table, as well as the impacts these scenarios have on the timeline for the shuttle, space station, and number of science missions, etc. It’s worth a read.