Status Report

AIP FYI #135: Task Force Recommendations on Managing Space Station

By SpaceRef Editor
November 6, 2001
Filed under , ,

The first two principal findings could not be clearer: “The
ISS [International Space Station] Program’s technical
achievements to date, as represented by on-orbit capability,
are extraordinary.” However, “The existing ISS Program Plan
for executing the FY 02-06 budget is not credible.”

These were two of the findings of the ISS Management and Cost
Evaluation Task Force that were contained in a 40-page report
to the NASA Advisory Council. The report was released on
November 2. Thomas Young, former president and Chief
Operations Officer at Martin Marietta Corporation, chaired the
task force.

The task force was announced in late July, following
revelations in April of a projected $4+ billion increase in
space station construction costs in the 2002-2006 time period.
Space station development costs are capped, by law, at $25.0
billion. The result points to a downsized station with
downsized research.

This report recommends significant management changes. Of
perhaps greater interest to the research community are the
task force recommendations regarding research. NASA now
envisions the station having a three-person crew instead of
the original seven-person crew. The report states, “The
scientific community is confused and considers the reduction
to a three-person crew, from the seven-person crew baseline,
to have a significant adverse impact on science.”

To mitigate this impact, the task force found “There are
opportunities to maximize scientific research on the [three-
person] core station with modest cost impact.” It suggests:
“The crew time available with a permanent crew of three
persons can be effectively doubled by extending sortie mission
crew time aboard the ISS. This can be accomplished by
overlapping planned Soyuz exchange periods so that the
visiting crew is aboard ISS for a period of 30 days every 5
months. Using existing Extended Duration Orbiter (EDO)
capability could allow for Shuttle docked time of up to 14
days. The increased research benefit derives primarily from
offloading ISS maintenance tasks to the visiting Shuttle crew.
However, there will be significant microgravity constraints
due to the Shuttle being docked to the station, as well as
crew transfer and maintenance operations.”

Looking ahead, the Task Force stated that the “end state” for
the program “should be defined in terms of the science
priorities recommended below:

“Establish research priorities. The Task Force is unanimous
in that the highest research priority should be solving
problems associated with long-duration human space flight,
including the engineering required for human support
mechanisms, and

“Provide the Centrifuge Accommodation Module (CAM) and
centrifuge mandatory to accomplish the top priority biological
research. Availability as late as FY 08 is unacceptable, and

“Establish a research plan consistent with the priorities,
including a prudent level of reserves, and compliant with the
approved budget.

“Provide additional crew time for scientific research through
the use of extended duration shuttle and overlap of Soyuz

“Create a Deputy Program Manager for Science position in ISS
Program Office. Assign a science community representative
with dual responsibility to the Program and OBPR [Office of
Biological and Physical Research].”

Initial reaction to the Task Force report by House Science
Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Ranking
Minority Member Ralph Hall (D-TX) was favorable. The
committee will hold a hearing on this report tomorrow.


Richard M .Jones

Public Information Division

The American Institute of Physics

[email protected]

(301) 209-3095


SpaceRef staff editor.