- Status Report
- Feb 7, 2023
Statement of A. Thomas Young Chairman, ISS Management and Cost Evaluation Task Force Before the House Science Committee
Chairman Boehlert, Congressman Hall, and members, thank you for the
opportunity to address the Committee about the findings of the
International Space Station (ISS) Management and Cost Evaluation (IMCE)
Task Force, which was established by the NASA Administrator in July 2001.
The Task Force was given Terms of Reference jointly developed by NASA and
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This charter for the group
included five specific questions:
- Is the U.S. core complete program credible for a FY2002 – 2006 budget
of $8.3 billion?
- Are there actions that can enhance or establish credibility for the
U.S. core complete program?
- What is the status of the ISS program financial management and program
control tools, and how can they be improved?
- Are there opportunities for maximizing research within the planned $8.3
billion ISS budget?
- Are the cost estimates for potential enhancements to the U.S. core
complete program credible?
The core complete program is the original program with the deletion of
the Crew Return Vehicle, Node 3, the Habitation module, and the Propulsion
module, as well as a reduction in the research budget.
ISS technical accomplishments were viewed by the IMCE Task Force to be
outstanding. An operational system is in orbit with a fully functioning
three-person crew. The operational system includes the integration of
diverse international technologies. The Space Shuttle, Progress, and Soyuz
spacecraft are providing support as required. Additional elements are
progressing toward launch. The International Space Station is truly a
remarkable technical achievement.
The IMCE Task Force concluded that the U.S. core complete program is not
credible for the $8.3 billion budget. A credible program could be
established if radical changes are implemented. These include major
changes in how the program is managed, additional cost reductions within
the ISS program, additional funds provided from the non-ISS parts of the
Human Space Flight budget, and the establishment of a clearly defined
program baseline with a credible "end state."
Recommended management changes include managing the ISS as a program,
not an institution, as well as streamlining management reporting and
control. The latter recommendation requires establishing an Associate
Administrator for ISS, reporting to the NASA Administrator, with total
program responsibility, including engineering and research. The ISS program
office would report directly to this new Associate Administrator
Additional cost reductions have been identified that can save $668
million over the FY2002 – 2006 time period. This would be accomplished by
incorporating a six-month ISS crew rotation cycle and some assembly
sequence changes to achieve a Space Shuttle flight rate of four per year to
support the ISS. A reduction of six Space Shuttle flights will be realized
in this time period resulting in the savings.
Potential savings from NASA’s current Strategic Resources Review and
institutional reductions can make an additional $350 – 450 million
available for the U.S. core complete program.
There is currently considerable uncertainty and confusion as to the
baseline program for ISS resulting in significant inefficiencies. The
baseline program possibilities range from the core complete option to the
original "full up" program. Given the science interest,
international partner interest, and the credibility issue that OMB and the
Congress have with NASA concerning ISS, neither of these options is
appropriate. The IMCE Task Force recommends an option between these two
that requires NASA to establish a credible core complete program, establish
science priorities, and fund at a minimum level potential enhancements.
This would be accomplished by mid-CY 2002. NASA would implement the core
complete program until the fall of CY 2003 at which time an assessment
would be made concerning the ISS program performance and NASA’s
credibility. If satisfactory, resource needs would be assessed and an
"end state" that realized the science potential would become the
baseline. If unsatisfactory, the core complete program would become the
Assessment of the financial management and program control tools found
them to be inadequate. The IMCE Task Force recommended that NASA develop a
robust process to perform cost estimating and to utilize this process to
produce a cost estimate for the ISS. Additionally, a state-of-the-art
management information system is required. Financial and program control
functions must be strengthened at the ISS program office and NASA
Headquarters at the Associate Administrator level.
The Task Force concluded that there are opportunities for maximizing
research within the planned ISS budget. Most importantly, science
priorities must be established to assure that limited resources are applied
to the most important science areas. Highest priority should be given to
understanding long-duration human space flight including necessary
engineering support. A centrifuge is mandatory to accomplish this top
priority fundamental biology research. Research in the physical sciences of
utmost importance can be accomplished on the ISS.
One of the results of the core complete program is a three-person crew.
This limits the crew time available to conduct ISS research; however, this
can be augmented by overlapping Soyuz missions to the ISS. Specifically, a
three-person Soyuz spacecraft is continually docked with the ISS to allow
crew return to Earth in an emergency. The Soyuz has a six-month on-orbit
lifetime limit, after which it is replaced with a new vehicle. If at each
Soyuz change the stay time is overlapped by one month, a crew of six can be
available every 5 months.
The IMCE Task Force recommends that the science management within the
ISS program be strengthened by establishing a Deputy Program Manager for
Science. This position is to be filled by a highly respected member of the
science community with management skills. An appropriate support structure
will be required to allow this individual to effectively represent the
Various enhancement options were considered by the Task Force. Cost
estimates for the enhancement options are not sufficiently developed to