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Revision 1 to NASA's Implementation Plan for ISS Continuing Flight

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, February 27, 2004

image Download Revision 1 Summary January 30, 2004

Revision 1 to NASA's Implementation Plan for International Space Station Continuing Flight ("ISS Continuing Flight Plan") reflects our progress to date in responding to the applicable recommendations and observations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), as well as additional ISS Continuous Improvement actions that have been directed by the ISS Program. Revision 1 replaces in its entirety the document initially released on October 28, 2003. Change bars have been added to those pages herein that have been modified since the initial release.

In this revision, NASA responds to the observations contained in Chapter 10 of the CAIB Report, and to the recommendations and observations in Volume II, Appendix D.a, Supplement to the CAIB Report. These responses are included in Parts 2.2 and 2.3, respectively.

NASA's progress from planning to implementation in many critical Shuttle return to flight (RTF) areas is reflected in updates to the Shuttle Program's Volume 1 of NASA's response to the CAIB Report. It includes descriptions of ISS Program participation in assuring adequate on-orbit inspection and repair and contingency crew support capabilities. Concurrently, the ISS has made progress in a number of areas crucial to safe continuing flight operations.

Safety and Mission Success Week. The ISS Program actively participated in the Agencywide Safety and Mission Success Week, November 17 21. At each staff meeting and all board and panel meetings during this period, all NASA and contractor employees were encouraged to review the CAIB Report and openly discuss any cultural or technical issues that should be brought to the Program's attention.

New ISS Utilization/Logistics Flight. To ensure that we have the logistics necessary to support the ISS crew and continued assembly, NASA has added a flight to the Shuttle manifest. This new flight, STS-121 (ISS flight ULF-1.1), will accomplish some of the ISS utilization and logistics objectives that were removed from STS-114 (ISS flight LF-1). These tasks were deferred to accommodate critical RTF activities such as demonstrating Shuttle Thermal Protection System inspection and repair.

Organization and Culture. The NASA Administrator directed the Associate Administrator for Safety and Mission Assurance to develop options for responding to CAIB recommendations 7.5-1, on the establishment of an Independent Technical Authority, and 7.5-2, on safety organization improvements. As part of this effort, NASA is working with industry and the Department of Defense to benchmark their independent oversight processes. The Goddard Space Flight Center Director is leading a complementary team to make recommendations on how the CAIB recommendations and observations can be applied beyond the Shuttle and ISS Programs and across the Agency. The core team for the NASA Engineering and Safety Center is now in place at the NASA Langley Research Center and began operation in November 2003. NASA is also taking a number of positive steps to identify cultural obstacles to effective risk management, including seeking suggestions from external experts. In this arena of external advice, the Agency has solicited proposals for a comprehensive plan to develop and deploy an organizational culture change initiative within NASA, with an emphasis on safety culture and climate. Using a diversity of inputs, NASA will then make specific and fundamental changes to remove those obstacles with training programs and other management initiatives.

As we issue this revision, NASA is embarking on a new and exciting chapter in space exploration. The President's new vision for U.S. space exploration, "A Renewed Spirit of Discovery," calls for a sustained, achievable, and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond. The ISS has played and will now play an even more crucial role in paving the way for human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The President directed NASA to complete assembly of the ISS by the end of this decade and to focus U.S. research and use of the ISS on supporting space exploration goals, with emphasis on understanding how the space environment affects astronaut health and developing countermeasures and spacecraft systems, such as those for life support. Consistent with the recommendations of the CAIB with regard to the Space Shuttle, the President has also directed NASA to separate to the maximum practical extent crew from cargo transportation to the ISS. As a result, we will reexamine crew rotation and ISS logistics and develop a new plan to meet those requirements. Future revisions of NASA's Implementation Plan for International Space Station Continuing Flight will reflect the role of the ISS defined in this new vision.

Beyond the CAIB recommendations and observations, ISS continues to receive and evaluate inputs from a variety of sources, including the additional volumes of the CAIB Report released in October 2003, our own employees, our virtual suggestion box at rtfsuggestions@nasa.gov, and a Government Mandatory Inspection Point (GMIP) independent assessment report released in late January 2004. We are systematically assessing the suggested corrective actions and will incorporate these actions into future revisions of our ISS Continuing Flight Plan.

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