The cost risk results from the SAIC models for each mission or activity are presented in the form of cost S curves (confidence level versus cost). At this point, any comparably risk-adjusted cost can be selected from the S curves for each of the proposed projects. Choosing a single confidence level tends to automatically normalize the cost estimates across competing missions in a way that allows them to be directly compared. However, as previously stated, the entire range of each S curve should be considered more representative of possible outcomes given the current state of knowledge, and in fact most probable ranges of costs will also likely shift as the design concepts mature.
Understanding cost estimates requires an appreciation of the cost-estimating assumptions that were made. Some of the more important assumptions in this assessment were as follows:
The range of costs reported in this study included total life-cycle cost composed of pre-implementation costs (i.e., Phase A conceptual design and Phase B preliminary design), full-scale development/implementation (i.e., Phase C detailed design, Phase D production), and mission operations and data analysis (i.e., Phase E operations). Collectively, the Phase A through D costs are generally referred to as acquisition costs, the terminology that was used in this study.
All costs quoted in this report have been adjusted to 2010 prices using the NASA New Start Inflation Index.
Cost estimates of spaceflight missions are assumed to be NASA-funded and include an allowance for NASA civil service labor cost and other NASA institutional costs such as center management and operations and NASA general and administrative overhead (NASA “full costs”).
Ground-based observatories were assumed to be funded outside of the NASA full-cost institution and management model.
The three ground-based missions were all optical observatories; the costs for them were estimated using the Multivariable Parametric Cost Model for Ground Optical Telescope Assemblies (in “References,” below, see the subsection “Cost Models”). As a cross-check, the results from the Multivariable Parametric Cost Model for Ground Optical Telescope Assembly Model were compared to ground-based telescope analogies.
Just as with spaceflight projects, there are a number of basic cost considerations in estimating the cost of ground-based facilities and research activities. These include the state of technology—technology varies considerably among industries and thus affects the accuracy of estimates. For a “first-of-a-kind” facility project, there is a lower level of confidence that the execution of the project will be successful (all else being equal). The inherent risk and uncertainty across the range of NEO ground-based activities is not constant. Some of the ground-based facilities have more challenging scientific goals, engineering requirements, and programmatic objectives. All cost and schedule estimates for the ground-based activities employed cost risk analysis to normalize for this is at the 99th percentile, but the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System 4 (PanSTARRS 4, or PS4), and the Binocular Telescope are also high, at the 80th and 75th percentile, respectively. The technology readiness of the telescopes was used to translate to the new design percentage.
The five space-based missions included two infrared telescopes, a kinetic characterization/kinetic impact mission, a gravity tractor, and a nuclear deflector mission. All of these space-based missions were estimated using the NASA QuickCost model (in “References,” see the subsection “Cost Models”). QuickCost is a model developed for NASA by SAIC that requires only a top-level description of the projects being estimated to generate