It’s big news when a hurricane damages buildings at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center or hits a rocket factory in New Orleans. There’s damage that needs repairing immediately so missions can move forward to launch.
But there’s a deeper problem with NASA’s infrastructure. Erik Weiser, director of NASA’s facilities and real estate division, told a blue-ribbon National Academies panel Thursday that the agency’s budget for maintenance and construction is “wholly underfunded.”
In his presentation to the National Academies committee, Weiser described NASA’s infrastructure as in an “increasing state of decline.” There’s a mismatch between what NASA needs to maintain or upgrade its facilities and the dollars the agency devotes to those efforts. The maintenance gap is $259 million per year using NASA’s most conservative estimate, or more than $600 million if NASA followed the maintenance practices of the commercial industry, Weiser said.