Memo from KSC Center Director: Solving International Space Station Resource Problem

Status Report From: Kennedy Space Center
Posted: Wednesday, February 21, 2001

                    CD COMM #75

    February 21, 2001

TO:     All KSC Civil Service Employees

FROM:       AA/Director

SUBJECT:   Solving International Space Station Resource Problem

We have all recently witnessed the safe landing of Atlantis and her crew after a nearly flawless mission that added Destiny to the International Space Station, Alpha. Many people in leadership positions in the Agency have complimented me on the great work of the KSC team in enabling the success of this mission. I am very pleased to pass along the good words to you. Clearly you deserve the credit along with the rest of the Shuttle and Station team for a job very well done. Thank you for all of the hard and smart work.

As many of you have seen, we have quite a lot of Station flight hardware in final processing in our facilities. This means that there is still a long way to go to finish the job of building it - 5 years and more than 30 Shuttle missions. Also, as you have no doubt read in the papers over the last week, we are facing some growth in the amount of resources to finish this work.

All of the Agency Senior Managers met in Washington last Friday for a marathon meeting to come up with some ideas for solving the Station resource problem. Without a good solution, we may find the Station will not live up to expectations. That will have long-term implications for NASA with the Administration, the Congress, our international partners, and the American people. More importantly, our civilization will be denied the many significant benefits we believe will come from the research planned on the Station over the next 15 to 20 years, and that research will begin with our very next mission in March as we deliver the rest of the equipment for the Destiny Lab. One thing was very clear from the Administrator and the Administration: We have to solve the problem within the four centers that are part of the Office of Space Flight-Kennedy, Johnson, Marshall and Stennis. We will not be able to solve the Station problem by taking money from one of the other Enterprises or their Centers; however, these other Centers are looking to see how they might restructure some of their programs to help the Agency's top priorities in other ways. For example, they have a lot of expertise that can be applied on Shuttle upgrades and Station research facilities. Conversely, some of our work could be transferred to the other Enterprises to free up resources to work on the Shuttle or Station.

On Saturday, Mr. Rothenberg had a meeting here at KSC with most of our Executive Management Team for a detailed review of all of our organizations and projects. He had already made trips to Johnson and Marshall for a similar purpose. The bottom line from the review was that Mr. Rothenberg complimented KSC on how well we have focused the Center on the Agency's priorities through our Implementation Plan, our Vision as NASA's Spaceport Technology Center, our KSC 2000 reorganization, and the many transition activities since we created the new Directorates. Nevertheless, we must find ways to help the Agency solve this very critical problem.

I have asked each of our Directors, under the guidance of Mr. Jennings, to scrub their resources (FTE and dollars) and their projects for things that can be deferred for two or three years while we get over the "crest of this hill" of building the Station. We will redirect the resources to projects that will assist in solving the problem according to Agency priorities: fly the Shuttle safely, build the Station, and provide next generation launch capabilities. If something doesn't meet one of these three priorities, it doesn't mean that it is not important as there are many other critical programs and projects in NASA; however, we have to refocus over the short term on these top three to avoid the downside that I mentioned above. We need your best ideas to help us avoid breaking things as we do these difficult deferrals and restructures. We would rather do things surgically and with sensitivity to our customers. We also don't have much time-one week to get our ideas defined and elevated for consideration. If we circle the wagons and defend everything, we may all suffer irreparable harm. Please jump on this problem and let's pull together to find a solution that will make us proud.

I know how hard we have worked to carve out some new things here at KSC, such as our Exploration work. Unfortunately, that is one of the areas we will have to defer. Clearly, without the answers from research on the Station regarding countermeasures for bone density loss and radiation, humans are not going to go to Mars. We have to solve those problems first. I also want to say again that we believe this work will only be deferred a few years, so we want to put it on the shelf in a condition where we can pick it up later. Also, we should continue to put our best efforts on assisting the robotic missions to Mars where JPL is depending on KSC for processing and launch services. The robotic missions are very critical precursors to a potential human mission to Mars.

Finally, I want to reassure you. Many rumors of things will no doubt be circulated as we await final budget decisions that will probably be released in detail in April. It is pointless to speculate and worry about these things, most of which will be false. All of your Senior Managers will communicate the facts as soon as we are allowed to do so. Also, while we will be looking to refocus some civil service employees on higher priority work, we are not looking at another round of downsizing to solve this short-term problem.

The KSC Team is a big factor in the success of the Station and Shuttle to date. I know that I can count on your best efforts as we approach these new obstacles. We can get this job done and done well with your continued help. It will be a story to tell your grandchildren with pride-about how we built the Space Station and enabled them to travel to the Stars.

/Original Signed By/

Roy D. Bridges, Jr.

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