U.S. National Laboratory on the Space Station: CASIS Continues To Have Problems Meeting Its Milestones


In hearings before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation yesterday, Interim Executive Director Jim Royson of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) stated that CASIS was following the reference model that had been established for NASA (by ProOrbis) for the operation of the entity (NPO) operating the U.S. National Laboratory on the International Space Station that CASIS was awarded a contract to run:

"During its standup phase, CASIS has developed an organizational structure faithful to our proposal, Cooperative Agreement with NASA, and original Reference Model, but one which is also responsive to the practicalities of implementation and the realities of the marketplace."

If you look at page 17 of the Reference Model for the International Space Station, U.S. National Laboratory

"We have assumed that the NPO would begin operations in fiscal year 2011 for at least 8 months of on-going operations. Fiscal years 2011 and 2012 break out the start-up and capital expenditures. It is contemplated that the NPO would receive governmental appropriations in the formative years of operations. The NPO generated funds have been estimated using the pricing of offerings (products and services) provided to NPO members and expense increases are scaled to the offerings provided. Proceeds from NPO operations are used to fund additional research and educational activities."

NASA and CASIS finalized their agreement in September 2011. That's 1 month of operations in FY 2011 and 9 months of operations in FY 2012. If CASIS is following the reference model, then it should be well along the way toward having raised $2,892,000 by now. Yet there was no mention of that by Royston. If CASIS is following this reference as Royston told Congress, then where is the money he's supposed to have raised/generated? If he has not generated it yet, when does he project that this milestone will be reached. If CASIS does not meet this milestone, what will NASA do?

Page 15 refers to a Bard of Directors for CASIS that has "National stature and world-class caliber talent". CASIS signed its MOU with NASA a year ago. Where's the board? CASIS keeps refering to it but they will not tell anyone who is on it.

CASIS seems to be having problems meeting its crucial milestones. According to Royston:

"Over the past 11 months, CASIS has seen its share of negative press, in particular, with the resignation of our Executive Director. Since that timeframe however, CASIS has continued to move forward, effectively promoting the ISS NL aggressively and passionately. Through any struggles that might have been perceived, CASIS has continued to meet or surpass all milestones established for the organization during its first year."

If CASIS has met all of its milestones there where is the $2,892,000 it was supposed to be raising and why do we not know the names of the organization's Board of Directors?

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