December 1996 Archives

Review of Issues Associated with Safe Operation and Management of the Space Shuttle Program, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel

November 1996

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

At the request of the President of the United States through the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the NASA Administrator tasked the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel with the responsibility to identify and review issues associated with the safe operation and management of the Space Shuttle program arising from ongoing efforts to improve and streamline operations. These efforts include the consolidation of operations under a single Space Flight Operations Contract (SFOC), downsizing the Space Shuttle workforce and reducing costs of operations and management.

Service Module Update

Keith's note: RIF Watch has come across additional information from the Moscow meetings held in late November regarding the problems confronting the Russian Service Module. This is a follow-on to our earlier report.

The Russians apparently do not understand NASA's preoccupation with "schedule" and are often fond of pointing to their decades of experience with space stations when responding to NASA concerns. They have also tried to get NASA officials to pressure the White House to, in turn, pressure Yeltsin et al to free up additional funds. Meanwhile, Phase 1 personnel (STS/Mir), having experienced the problems with Russia and their space program first hand, have been saying "I told you so" " and "don't you guys get it?"to the ISS teams working the Service Module issue. The White House has also told NASA that they are just going to have to figure out a way to fix the problems with Russian hardware within NASA's current budget. ISS officials have been reminded that Russia has far more serious systemic problems - paying for their Army, defaulting on agreements with the IMF, and keeping their current space program going, and that is totally unrealistic to expect them to change any time soon or find any spare cash.

The current situation is as follows: The Russians are pushing to make a formal announcement as soon as is possible that the schedule for the Service Module has slipped by 8 months. NASA representatives are currently working to delay such an announcement at least until after the completion of Dan Goldin's trip to Moscow (currently planned for early December 1996). If at all possible, NASA would really like this announcement to wait until the completion of Vice President Gore's Moscow Trip in January 1997. The US bargaining position has been to push the Russians toward options that would preserve the US launch schedule as much as possible.


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