July 1993 Archives

Source: Space Station Freedom Program Office

President Clinton chose Option A as the preferred design for the space station based upon the Vest Committee report. In doing so, the president gave direction to NASA which included adding portions of Option B such as larger modules, truss modifications, and data system simplifications to the Option A design. Such direction has also been clearly expressed by Congress.

According to the presentations made by the leader of the Option A team at Marshall Space Flight Center on 29 June 1993, Option A management was still under direction to pursue Option A1. At this meeting, it was made clear by Option A management that using design features from Option B (Freedom) was not going to be entertained. Indeed, any such attempt was vigorously discouraged. Persons making such suggestions were removed from the participation lists for subsequent discussions at the space station redesign offices in Crystal City.

Option A's main selling point was a space station design that used Space Station Freedom-developed hardware, with deletions and simplifications to significantly cut costs. The cost savings claimed by Option A's modifications to Space Station Freedom's hardware are unfounded and will be outweighed by the costs and schedule delays needed to try and make the designs work in an Option A configuration. These costs have not been included in the Option A presentations to the White House and Congress. When these costs are added to the advertised cost of Option A, Option B (Freedom) begins to look like a bargain.

If such design changes are not made to Option A, a space station design will emerge which will require hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding and will experience schedule slips which will delay the deployment of a research facility (of dubious value) until the end of the century. Funding for the space station program barely escaped defeat for FY 1994. After hearing that an additional $2.1 billion of FY 1994 funding has produced an underdesigned, over-budget space station, a Congress presented with the aforementioned problems will certainly be less charitable when considering the FY 1995 budget request from NASA.

And then there will be no space station at all.


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