NASA Considers Space Station Science Cuts to Save Money

By Keith Cowing
July 27, 2006
Filed under
NASA Considers Space Station Science Cuts to Save Money

NASA is considering shutting down all U.S. science aboard the ISS for a year or more for budgetary reasons. According to multiple sources, during the Space Station Program Control Board two weeks ago, Mike Suffredini issued an action to Code OZ (ISS Payloads Office) to evaluate the impacts of not funding any U.S. science on the ISS in FY07. This action would effectively eliminate science until Increment 19 in 2009. The underlying reason: to fix the funding shortfall of $100 million that exists from losing funds to Katrina and other funding pressures at NASA.

The action was issued during a budget presentation by Richard Fox during which Suffredini was told that the ISS program has a $100 million shortfall for FY 2007. One of the impacts of shutting all science down for FY07 is that it will take as long as 3 years (FY08 – 10) to restore the capability to operate payloads aboard ISS. If implemented, the shut down would close the Payload Operations Integration Center (POIC) at MSFC, lay off both the contractor flight controller and facility support staff, as well as contractor staff at both JSC and KSC who support payload integration.

Suffredini has not been given the results of this action – nor has he made any decision to shut down ISS science – yet. Suffredini could be briefed as early as this Friday (tomorrow). Some people in the ISS program feel that this may be simply a political exercise to show just how tight funds are. None the less, the immediate effect of this action item is to further lower the morale of many at NASA who already doubt the agency’s commitment to doing what the ISS was originally designed to do: science.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.