Is NASA Going To Break The Law By Not Delivering An ISS Transition Plan To Congress?

Keith's note: NASA HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier was speaking at the NASA Advicory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee meeting today. It certainly seems that he has decided that NASA is not going to comply with S.442 - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 - which is now law. In that law Congress told NASA that they are to deliver a ISS Transition plan no later than 1 December 2017 - this Friday. All indications I get from NASA - and Gerstenmaier's statement - make it clear that there is no plan to be delivered.

According to S.442 - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (Public Law No: 115-10 (03/21/2017))

"(1) ((NOTE: Coordination.)) In general.--The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

(2) Reports.--Not later than December 1, 2017, and biennially thereafter until 2023, the Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives a report that includes--"

Full section below

SEC. 303. ((NOTE: 51 USC 50111 note.)) ISS TRANSITION PLAN.

(a) Findings.--Congress finds that--

(1) NASA has been both the primary supplier and consumer of human space flight capabilities and services of the ISS and in low-Earth orbit; and

(2) according to the National Research Council report ``Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration'' extending ISS beyond 2020 to 2024 or 2028 will have significant negative impacts on the schedule of crewed missions to Mars, without significant increases in funding.

(b) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that--

(1) an orderly transition for United States human space flight activities in low-Earth orbit from the current regime, that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship, to a regime where NASA is one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit commercial human space flight enterprise may be necessary; and

(2) decisions about the long-term future of the ISS impact the ability to conduct future deep space exploration activities, and that such decisions regarding the ISS should be considered in the context of the human exploration roadmap under section 432 of this Act.

(c) Reports.--Section 50111 of title 51, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

``(c) ISS Transition Plan.--

``(1) ((NOTE: Coordination.)) In general.--The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

``(2) Reports.--Not later than December 1, 2017, and biennially thereafter until 2023, the Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives a report that includes--

``(A) a description of the progress in achieving the Administration's deep space human exploration objectives on ISS and prospects for accomplishing future mission requirements, space exploration objectives, and other research objectives on future commercially supplied low- Earth orbit platforms or migration of those objectives to cis-lunar space;

``(B) the steps NASA is taking and will take, including demonstrations that could be conducted on the ISS, to stimulate and facilitate commercial demand and supply of products and services in low-Earth orbit;

``(C) an identification of barriers preventing the commercialization of low-Earth orbit, including issues relating to policy, regulations, commercial intellectual property, data, and confidentiality, that could inhibit the use of the ISS as a commercial incubator;

``(D) ((NOTE: Criteria.)) the criteria for defining the ISS as a research success;

``(E) ((NOTE: Criteria.)) the criteria used to determine whether the ISS is meeting the objective under section 301(b)(2) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017;

``(F) ((NOTE: Assessment.)) an assessment of whether the criteria under subparagraphs (D) and (E) are consistent with the research areas defined in, and recommendations and schedules under, the current National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space;

``(G) any necessary contributions that ISS extension would make to enabling execution of the human exploration roadmap under section 432 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017;

``(H) ((NOTE: Cost estimate.)) the cost estimates for operating the ISS to achieve the criteria required under subparagraphs (D) and (E) and the contributions identified under subparagraph (G);

``(I) ((NOTE: Cost estimate.)) the cost estimates for extending operations of the ISS to 2024, 2028, and 2030;

``(J) ((NOTE: Evaluation.)) an evaluation of the feasible and preferred service life of the ISS beyond the period described in section 503 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (42 U.S.C. 18353), through at least 2028, as a unique scientific, commercial, and space exploration- related facility, including--

``(i) a general discussion of international partner capabilities and prospects for extending the partnership;

``(ii) the cost associated with extending the service life;

``(iii) ((NOTE: Assessment.)) an assessment on the technical limiting factors of the service life of the ISS, including a list of critical components and their expected service life and availability; and

``(iv) such other information as may be necessary to fully describe the justification for and feasibility of extending the service life of the ISS, including the potential scientific or technological benefits to the Federal Government, public, or to academic or commercial entities;

``(K) ((NOTE: Cost estimate.)) an identification of the necessary actions and an estimate of the costs to deorbit the ISS once it has reached the end of its service life;

``(L) the impact on deep space exploration capabilities, including a crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s, if the preferred service life of the ISS is extended beyond 2024 and NASA maintains a flat budget profile; and

``(M) ((NOTE: Evaluation. Determination.)) an evaluation of the functions, roles, and responsibilities for management and operation of the ISS and a determination of--

``(i) those functions, roles, and responsibilities the Federal Government should retain during the lifecycle of the ISS;

``(ii) those functions, roles, and responsibilities that could be transferred to the commercial space sector;

``(iii) the metrics that would indicate the commercial space sector's readiness and ability to assume the functions, roles, and responsibilities described in clause (ii); and

``(iv) any necessary changes to any agreements or other documents and the law to enable the activities described in subparagraphs (A) and (B).

``(3) Demonstrations.--If additional Government crew, power, and transportation resources are available after meeting the Administration's requirements for ISS activities defined in the human exploration roadmap and related research, demonstrations identified under paragraph (2) may--

``(A) test the capabilities needed to meet future mission requirements, space exploration objectives, and other research objectives described in paragraph (2)(A); and

``(B) demonstrate or test capabilities, including commercial modules or deep space habitats, Environmental Control and Life Support Systems, orbital satellite assembly, exploration space suits, a node that enables a wide variety of activity, including multiple commercial modules and airlocks, additional docking or berthing ports for commercial crew and cargo, opportunities for the commercial space sector to cost share for transportation and other services on the ISS, other commercial activities, or services obtained through alternate acquisition approaches.''.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 29, 2017 2:43 PM.

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