Status Report

Diplomatic Note (and Speaking Notes) from the Canadian Government to the U.S. State Department regarding the Space Station IMCE Report

By SpaceRef Editor
November 7, 2001
Filed under , ,

Canadian Embassy – Ambassade du Canada

Note No. 0077

The Canadian Embassy presents its compliments to the Department of State and has the honour to refer to Article 15 and Article 23.2 of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) governing the International Space Station (ISS).

While noting that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has officially informed the International Space Station (ISS) Partners that it is anticipating a cost growth of US$4.8B in the ISS program, the Government of Canada observes that NASA has been directed by the Administration to remain within its budget.

The Government of Canada notes that, in order to cope with its budgetary constraints, NASA has provided a plan whereby further development of certain key ISS components to be supplied by NASA, has been terminated (namely the Propulsion Module, the Habitation Module and Node 3) and that work on the Crew Return Vehicle has been slowed down significantly. This plan would severely curtail the program, since it would virtually eliminate the Partners collective ability to use the ISS as intended in the IGA.

The elements being deleted are essential to expand the crew size from three to six or seven. The government of Canada is concerned this will have a major negative impact on the ability to conduct science on the ISS, as normal operation and maintenance of the station requires 2.5 crew persons out of the three. Further, NASA has indicated that the Space Shuttle flight rate will be reduced from seven to six or less per year. The reduction in planned crew size and shuttle flight rate (lengthening onÐorbit astronaut time) would severely limit astronaut access tot he ISS by all Partners.

The Government of Canada believes that NASA is unable to bear the cost of fulfilling its responsibilities per Article 15 of the IGA and would appreciate the opportunity to discuss the impact of the planned reduction in scope of the U.S. obligations. Further, as provided under Article 23.2 of the IGA, the Government of Canada requests that the United States convene a government-level multilateral consultation of ISS Partners at the earliest practical time.

The Canadian Embassy avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Department of State the assurances of its highest consideration.

Washington, DC

October 31, 2001

Speaking Notes –

Demarche reference International Space Station

October 26, 2001

YS Administration FY ’02 Budget Blueprint for the ISS:

  1. We are sympathetic to the situation facing the US Administration concerning the projected cost growth in the US/NASA contribution to the International Space Station (ISS) program.
  2. The President’s FY ’02 Budget Blueprint to contain this cost growth, implies a major change to the US commitments as set out in the treaty level Intergovernmental Agreement (IDA) which governs the program.
  3. This Blueprint, if followed by Congress, would virtually eliminate any of the Partners’ ability to use the Station as set out in the IGA
  4. Further, the Blueprint if executed would not meet the espoused goal of the US Administration in this Blueprint of the ISS being a “world-class research (facility) in space”.
  5. The Blueprint refers to the US contribution as “US Core Complete”. This terminology (configuration, milestone) does not exist in the IGA/MOUs or, any approved ISS assembly sequence.

Direct Consequences to Canada of the US Plan

  1. The Blueprint would prevent the US from delivering the ISS Habitation Module, the Crew Return Vehicle and other essential on-orbit elements and limit the ISS to a crew of three. The Blueprint also reduces the US on-orbit scientific research facilities by some 33% (from 27 to 18 racks).
  2. 2.5 crew-persons are required to maintain and operate the ISS. This means that utilization activities would be limited to 20 hours per week (i.e. 0.5 crew-person with a crew of three), and this time would have to be shared as agreed in the IGA/MOUs by all partners. Canada’s share would therefore be only 30 minutes per week, which is not enough time to conduct any meaningful science.
  3. In addition to a three-person crew limit, the US/NASA has plans to reduce the Shuttle flight rate and extend the on-orbit crew-time from 90-increments to 120 days, possibly 180 days – in an effort to meet the President’s Budget Blueprint. The Partners have agreed in the IGA/MOU, the sharing of crew flight opportunities. Under the US plan, Canada’s flight opportunities would be one six month stay every 11 years instead of our IGA/MPOU allocation of one three month stay every three years. This is no acceptable to the Government of Canada or the Canadian Space Agency.

Renegotiation of the IGA, MOUs and Implementing Arrangements:

  1. Any proposal on the part of the US to amend its contribution to the ISS must be dealt with through established procedures, as contained in the IGA/MOUs (i.e. a renegotiation of the IGA, NASA-CSA MOU and possibly Implementing/Barter Agreements already concluded under the IGA/MOU.) For Canada items that would have to be renegotiated include:

    • Maintaining Canada’ share of the ISS accommodations and its resources as envisaged quantitatively (but expressed as a percentage) in the IGA/MOUs
    • A reconfirmation of Canada’s crew opportunities as envisaged in the IGA/MOUs (we would not expect our opportunities to be reduced because the United States has decided to reduce the on-orbit crew to three from seven) and,
    • A reduction on Canada’s Common System Operations Cost obligations.

ISS Management and Cost Evaluation Task Force:

  1. Canada/CSA is concerned that the Report of the independent ISS Management and Cost Evaluation (IMCE) Task Force, which will be issued shortly, will not reflect the concerns of the non-US Partners nor the IGA/MOU implications. Canada acknowledges that the IMCE Terms of Reference were to “perform an independent external review and assessment of the cost and budget and to provide recommendations on how to assure that the ISS can provide maximum benefit to the US taxpayers and the international partners within the Administration’s budget request”. Canada is not criticizing the IMCE process, but it is deeply concerned that the ICME Terms of Reference require it to work “within the Administration’s budget request”.
  2. The Government of Canada appreciates that the Canadian Space Agency was given “observer” status to the ICME and, had one opportunity to present the position of Canada/CSA to the IMCE Task Force (presentation attached). However, we wish to point out that the CSA has had no opportunity to provide a direct input to the IMCE Report. Canada also notes that many of the IMCE subsidiary meetings were held (understandably) in “closed session”. The CSA did provide the Chair of the IMCE Task Force with a letter (attached) at the beginning of the IOMCE deliberations, outlining factors it wished the Task Force to consider.

Concluding Remarks:

  1. The ISS has the potential to represent a major accomplishment of a US led alliance with fourteen of its allies.
  2. The ISS has, despite difficulties encountered by all Partners in the past, thus far been a great success. It would be extremely regrettable if the program were to pause, halt or be run at a very low level when the Partners are so close to delivering amazing science through the ISS in its agree configuration.
  3. Canada is concerned that if the US plan is maintained, there will be widespread disillusionment by all stakeholders, and thus an evaporation of support for the Program and the ISS.
  4. We urge the United States to reconsider its position.

SpaceRef staff editor.