Status Report

NASA Space Station Program Manager’s Forum March 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
April 5, 2004
Filed under , , ,

From NASA (Internal) International Space Station Newsletter March 2004

ISS and the New Vision

William H. Gerstenmaier

We are all very excited by
the President’s announcement of
a new vision for U.S. space
exploration. One of the most
exciting things is that ISS was
mentioned as part of the vision.
The first two points of the vision
are: 1) Return the Shuttle safely
to flight and 2) Complete the
International Space Station. This
confirms that the President is
committed to the ISS Program,
and it is our job to implement
that task. Of course, it also
brings to mind many questions
as to exactly how all the pieces
of the puzzle involving existing
and new programs will fall into
place. The answers to these
questions will come over a
period of months and years as
the details are being worked.

We must remember that the
ISS team’s priorities are to keep
ISS in an assembly ready
configuration and provide
continuing safe operations for
our crew. We must apply our
ongoing diligence to ensure the
effective maintenance and repair
of hardware, the most efficient
use of consumables, and a
productive research program on
ISS. If the situation warrants, it
is acceptable to return the crew
to Earth just as we would at the
end of an increment.

The President’s vision will
have some implications to ISS
assembly and perhaps even to
its final configuration. ISS U.S.
science is being reprioritized to
focus on the research that will
equip humans for exploration
beyond low Earth orbit. It is
crucial to study the effects of
microgravity and radiation on the
human body, as well as the
psychological effects of long
space voyages before we can
fully realize the new vision. ISS
will be the lifeblood of this
research. Publicly this vision is
widely known, but there is
another role for ISS that is just
as important. ISS can serve as
an engineering test bed for the
exploration initiative. Just as the
Moon will serve as a steppingstone
to Mars, ISS can serve as
a stepping-stone to the Moon.
We have already learned a lot
about long-duration remote
operations on ISS with limited
resupply. We have completed an
EVA with ISS continuing to
operate under ground control;
this EVA demonstrates the
resilience of the ISS system.
Preparing for and executing this
EVA provided invaluable insight
into our ability to support a time
critical contingency EVA. Prior to
beginning the preparation for this
EVA, the general thinking was
that a contingency EVA would be
relatively straight-forward. The
planning and execution brought
to light the real complexities
associated with operating in this
mode. The ISS system is very
complex and extreme attention
to detail is required. Further this
EVA show-cased the ability of
the Russian and U.S. teams to
work together on a truly joint
activity. Lessons for the EVA
and basic day-to-day operations
can be directly applied to the
exploration initiative. Lastly,
some of our hardware can be
directly used in the exploration

These are dynamic and
exciting times. The future is
being defined. Remember, you
are doing what others dream.
The day-to-day activities you
perform are precursors to the
future. You are doing what others
are planning. Your experience
will be invaluable to future
activities. Stay focused on your
work today. Flying in space is not
easy. YOU are the team who
makes this all happen and are
setting the path for the future by
your work today—and I am
blessed to be able to work with

SpaceRef staff editor.