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Artemis

OIG: NASA's Astronaut Office May Not Have The Right Stuff In The Future

By Keith Cowing
January 11, 2022
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OIG: NASA's Astronaut Office May Not Have The Right Stuff In The Future

NASA OIG: NASA’s Management Of Its Astronaut Corps, OIG
“… However, the astronaut corps is projected to fall below its targeted size or minimum manifest requirement in fiscal year (FY) 2022 and FY 2023 due to attrition and additional space flight manifest needs. More concerning, the Astronaut Office calculated that the corps size would exactly equal the number of flight manifest seats NASA will need in FY 2022. As a result, the Agency may not have a sufficient number of additional astronauts available for unanticipated attrition and crew reassignments or ground roles such as engaging in program development, staffing Astronaut Office leadership and liaison positions, and serving as spokespeople for the Agency. In light of the expanding space flight opportunities anticipated for the Artemis missions, the corps might be at risk of being misaligned in the future, resulting in disruptive crew reorganizations or mission delays.
… However, astronaut skillset data is not consistently collected, comprehensively organized, or regularly monitored or updated. The Chief and Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office said they can use various tracking systems, if needed, but given the small number of astronauts in the corps they primarily rely on their own informal knowledge to inform skillset decisions. While this kind of informal decision making has been used to manage ISS missions, it might not be effective as the size of the corps increases, still-evolving Artemis requirements are incorporated into astronaut training, and attempts to track skillsets over time for multiple missions become more complex.
… The Astronaut Office’s personnel databases also lack comprehensive demographic information specific to the astronaut corps. This poses a challenge to assessing whether NASA is meeting Agency and Administration diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility objectives.
… As the Agency prepares for crewed Artemis missions, astronaut training needs will change. As with sizing, the current astronaut training framework is primarily aligned to ISS mission requirements. The Astronaut Office is in the process of developing a framework for Artemis training, but this framework has not been formally chartered nor have any Artemis crews been announced. As such, specific mission-focused training for the Artemis II mission–the first crewed Artemis flight–has not yet begun. the Agency could be overestimating the time available to develop and implement the necessary training framework and regimen across key Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), next-generation spacesuits, Human Landing . Delays in moving beyond the current ISS-focused approach for current and future astronauts increase the risk of delays in developing the necessary training to meet Artemis mission goals.”

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