Status Report

AIP FYI #6: NASA Plan Would Focus Resources on Station Research, Launch Technologies

By SpaceRef Editor
January 17, 2003
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In 2003, NASA expects to come very close to completing the core structure
of the International Space Station (ISS), with several new research racks to
be delivered this year and the final section of truss to be launched in
January 2004. In November, the Bush Administration submitted to Congress a
revision to NASA’s FY 2003 budget request that would, according to NASA,
“ensure the International Space Station is properly financed and better
positioned to achieve its scientific research priorities.” The amendment
calls for a new, budget-neutral Integrated Space Transportation plan that
would restructure NASA funding to enhance the station’s research capacity,
extend the life of the shuttle fleet, provide for development of a crew
return vehicle and future reusable launch vehicle technologies, and better
coordinate NASA’s human space flight programs. A November 8 NASA statement
says the plan reflects “a strategic decision to more tightly couple the
Space Station, Space Shuttle, and SLI [Space Launch Initiative] programs.”

As Congress has not yet completed the FY 2003 appropriations bills, there
is still time for the Administration’s amendment to be incorporated. House
Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) praised the proposal:
“Over the last two years, I have been talking with Administrator O’Keefe
about the need to integrate NASA’s human space flight programs; to evaluate
current and future needs of the Space Shuttle, Space Station, and the Space
Launch Initiative as a whole and not just as individual programs. This
proposal does just that and is a big step in the right direction. This
re-focus of NASA’s Space Transportation and Space Station plans is fiscally
prudent and greatly needed to maximize the Station’s scientific research.”

“The new plan incorporates the Space Shuttle, a new Orbital Space Plane,
and technology for future reusable launch vehicles into one comprehensive
plan to provide for the advancement of human space flight,” said Senator
Bill Nelson (D-FL) in a November 20 floor speech. “The new plan includes
an increased Shuttle launch rate to better meet the research needs of the
Space Station while also accommodating the International Space Station
reaching what NASA calls ‘U.S. Core Complete.’ While I believe that the
‘Core Complete’ stage of Station construction, scheduled to be completed
next year, is far less than what our nation deserves, it is the first step
to a more fully functional Space Station from which all nations will
benefit.

“The new budget plan also responds to the concerns of the ReMAP study, also
known as the Research Experimentation and Maximization Plan. The ReMap
study concluded that the Space Station, in its currently planned form, would
not be able to conduct even a minimum level of science research to call it a
science program. NASA’s FY2003 budget amendment seeks to ameliorate some of
these concerns by providing additional funding to increase the research
capabilities onboard the Space Station.” The one “missing piece from this
plan,” Nelson commented, “is cooperation from the departments dealing with
the nation’s defense. DOD, NASA, and other agencies need to pool their
resources to develop some of these high-risk, expensive technology
programs.”

Audrey T. Leath

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

[email protected]

(301) 209-3094

SpaceRef staff editor.