ISS Science Cuts Update

Dear Colleagues:

NASA is proposing to "realign" research and technology in the physical and life sciences in order to accelerate the development of crew vehicles and to complete the ISS. What this means is that most all that work will be eliminated so that not only won't the objectives of the Exploration Initiative be fulfilled but also, all of NASA's human spaceflight capabilities will be lost. Furthermore, all the research and engineering workforces with experience in reduced-gravity phenomena that have been nurtured over 30 years are being decimated.

At this very moment, various congressional committees are reviewing this "realignment" and only they can reverse it. It is, therefore, essential that you contact as many of your senators and congressmen and voice your opinions ASAP. I have often heard members of congress say that they never hear from the research community. Now is your chance! Billions of dollars have been wasted in the last two years and the workforce has been rendered inactive by the last two administrators who have had diametrically opposite views on how to accomplish the Exploration Initiative and who have not sought advice from knowledgeable researchers. I have attached some NASA Concerns that contains the essential points. You are free to modify it, add your own concerns, mention your involvement in the programs, or just send it on as it stands. You can readily obtain the email addresses of your congressional delegation from the web. Please act now!!

I would appreciate your letting me know who you contacted.

Simon Ostrach, Ph.D., W. J. Austin Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Engineering
Case Western Reserve University, 312 Glennan Bldg.
10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7074
Phone: (216) 368-0748, Fax: (216) 368-0718

November, 2005

NASA, based on an internal study, Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), is essentially eliminating all research and technology in the physical and life sciences.

This is in order to develop a Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and a Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and to return to the Moon for week-long stays by 2018.


The development of the new vehicles is certainly vital for exploration beyond low-Earth-orbit. However, to have sustained human presence beyond low-earth-orbit (a requirement of the Exploration Initiative) requires novel enabling technologies for power generation and storage, propulsion, and closed-loop systems for lifesupport. Many critical components of those systems as well as the human body are very sensitive to the gravitational environment in ways still not fully understood. Therefore, requirements-based research is essential to obtain the knowledge bases for the design of those enabling technologies. Much of that needs to be done on the ISS with tests of the entire closed-loop systems to be done on the Moon.

The National Academies have made such recommendations repeatedly and consistently over the past 30 years.

The development of such new advanced technologies, which cannot be extrapolated from ground-based ones, requires long lead times and must, therefore, be done concurrently with the development of crew vehicles. A research community with expertise in reduced-gravity has been nurtured for 30 years to undertake this task.

All of this is to be eliminated by the proposed approach.

Furthermore, in so doing the research and engineering workforces are being decimated.


The following issues require direct and specific considerations if this new NASA approach is to be changed to one that will lead to "a long-term human and robotic exploration program that spawns new technologies, and engages the best and brightest in our universities, and nurtures the R&D capabilities that will be needed to meet long-term exploration goals and carry out NASA's other missions". (Congressman Bart Gordon's remark to the House Science Committee, Nov. 3, 2005)

1. Why is NASA taking the advice of a purely internal group, ESAS, which is counter to the recommendations from extensive National Academy studies that were made by experts in all relevant fields?

2. What is the purpose of week-long sorties to the Moon? That was done long ago. The money spent could more wisely be used to develop the technologies that will enable humans to sustain operations in alien environments. After the required knowledge is obtained and system components developed on the Space Station, the Moon could be meaningfully used to test prototype closed-loop systems and technologies as precursors to human Mars missions,

3. With the proposed approach, crew vehicles and a completed space station will be useless because the interested and capable research and technology communities and their students have been disenfranchised.

4. More than 350 grants are to be terminated shortly. If each PI has only two graduate students this means about 1000 researchers in the physical and life sciences will be removed from the future workforce.

5. According to NASA's proposed plan, the researchers in those areas whose expertise will be required in 15 to 20 years are currently in secondary schools, but who will be able to educate them?

6. NASA talks about having a "balanced program" in Science, but they mean the Earth and space sciences and are eliminating the very sciences (physical and life) that are critical to the Exploration Initiative.

7. A robust program in the physical and life sciences MUST be reinstated immediately, if the U.S. is to retain its leadership in space.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 16, 2005 11:21 AM.

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