Monday, December 28, 2009

Government Accountability Office reports International Space Station science might not be used because of launch costs


The Government Accountability Office issued a report uttering the retirement of the Space Shuttle could push commercial launch costs up and affect science research on the International Space Station.

The report was completed at the request of U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate's Subcommittee on Science and Space.

According to the report: "The primary aim for the ISS through 2010 is construction, so research utilization has not been the priority. Some research has been and is being conducted as time and resources allow while the crew on board performs assembly tasks, but research will is expected to commence in earnest in 2010. NASA projects that it will utilize around 50 percent of the U.S.

ISS research facilities for its own research, including the Human Research Program, opening the left over facilities to U.S. ISS National Laboratory researchers. NASA faces numerous significant challenges that may impede efforts to maximize utilization of all ISS research facilities, including: the impending retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010 and reduced launch capabilities for transporting ISS research cargo once the shuttle retires; high costs for launches and no dedicated funding to hold research; limited time available for research due to the fixed size of crew and competing demands for the crew's time; and an uncertain future for the ISS beyond 2015. "


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