Letter from NASA JSC Center Director: Actions Required to Address ISS Budget Challenges


National Aeronautics and
Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
2010 NASA Road 1
Houston, TX 77058-3696

AB

FEB 23 2001

TO: Senior Staff
FROM: AA/Director
SUNJECT: Actions Required to Address ISS Budget Challenges

We have just completed an outstanding mission, STS-98. It was the ninth in a series of successful missions to the International Space Station, Station Alpha, over this past year. The Johnson Space Center Civil service and contractor workforce, as well as the other Office of Space Flight Centers, and our contractor team, have done an outstanding job in achieving a permanent human presence in space. The Expedition 1 Crew is now less than a month away from completing their mission, and the Expedition 2 Crew is preparing to take their place. It has taken a dedicated and highly talented team to perform these accomplishments.

There are still many challenges ahead. Over the first six months of 2001, we will be flying eight flights to the Space Station, five shuttle flights, and three Russian flights; an unparalleled series of flights. STS-98 was the first in this series. This is a great challenge under any circumstances, but considering the need to execute the task within our budget, it becomes even more of a challenge. In addition, the Shuttle Program is also dealing with significant upgrades and infrastructure challenges that pose a threat to the current budget. To address all of these issues, I believe it is important to refocus our civil service workforce and out activities on the needs of these high priority NASA programs.

The Shuttle and Station Programs have identified a number of actions to align activities and work within their budgets. In addition to their actions, the following actions are also to be implemented at the Center as soon as practical:

  • The Center Inspection, which has been held on an annual basis, will be deferred until 2003 and held every other year thereafter.
  • The Technology Transfer Trailer will be limited to 50 events per year.
  • The KC-135 Student Program will complete the current commitment and a detailed cost benefit analysis will be performed concurrently and approved by the Center Director. Actionee: Bob Naughton/Greg Hayes
  • The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket Propulsion System will be limited to the Office of Aerospace Technology resources.
  • The implementation of the Environmental Management System and/or the achievement of ISO 14000 certification will be reviewed based on the current budget concerns and sustained effort required by the Center resources. Actionee: Nate Wright
  • The Space Operations Management Office will initiate an effort to define architectures for Station and Shuttle communications and tracking, and data that will reduce operations costs for both Programs. Actionee: Stan Newberry

The following additional actions will be assigned and action plans, schedules, and estimated completion dates will be provided to me by March 12,2001.

  • Defer all Mars/Advanced Exploration technology work (with the exception of work being performed in support of Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and place facilities on stand-by as necessary until further notice. Actionee: Frank Benz
  • Defer all Bio-plex work and place facilities and equipment on Stand-by. Actionee: Frank Benz/Dave Williams
  • Expand civil service technology effort to develop tools, such as knowledge-based software, which will help reduce the cost of Sustaining Engineering and Mission Operations for the Shuttle and ISS. This will be a collaborative effort with the Ames Research Center. Actionee: Frank Benz/Randy Stone
  • Perform a study based on the projected manifest and assembly sequence to determine the appropriate size of the astronaut corps and the requirement for future astronaut classes. Actionee: Charlie Precourt/Greg Hayes
  • Provide a plan to excess all of JSC's Gulfstream I assets as soon as possible. Actionee: Bob Naughton
  • Provide a plan to establish a Center-level Project management Office to provide the Project management discipline, skill base, and management to ensure GFE meets cost, schedule, and technical commitment to the Programs. Consider co-location of management. Actionee: Frank Benz/Randy Stone/Tommy Holloway/Ron Dittemore
  • Provide a plan to consolidate the responsibility of the Training and Engineering Simulators and crew interface activities. Actionee: Brian Duffy
  • Provide a plan that will assess placing on stand-by or limited use, engineering and laboratory facilities at the Johnson Space Center, per reduced requirements as impacted by the budget. Actionee: Frank Benz
  • Assess all training requirements for the Flight Control Team and the Crew and evaluate the need to maintain the present and planned simulator and training complex. Actionee: Randy Stone
  • Phase out the present activities on TransHab and provide a plan to refocus the transhab team and the majority of the technology workforce around the projects that both offset Shuttle and ISS costs and provide challenging work for the engineering staff as well as hands-on training for new hires. Actionee: Frank Benz.

The Center is committed to controlling costs and will continue to look for other cost saving measures. The recent budget assessments performed by the Space Station and Space Shuttle Programs have highlighted the challenge and requires all of us to implement actions that will allow us to perform our activities within our budget constraints. They must, however, be performed with no compromise to safety, and with the same demonstrated competency, quality, and professionalism as our activities over this past year.

The implementation of the assigned actions is of the highest priority. Bill Parsons, Deputy Director, will have the responsibility to work with the designated actionees to provide an integrated overall plan for my review and approved by March 12, 2001. Status reports will be provided by the Deputy Director on a regular basis, subsequent to that date. We clearly have challenges ahead but I have every confidence, as in the past, the JSC team can and will respond to assure the successful implementation of our Programs.

George W.S. Abbey

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.