Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Monday, May 5, 2003

Download 5.2 MB PDF file

Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment

The Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment was a NASA effort commissioned by then Office of Space Flight, Associate Administrator, Fred Gregory, in March 2002, to identify and prioritize the future investments required to safely and effectively fly Shuttle through 2020. At the time the 2020 Assessment was commissioned, the Shuttle service life was planned through 2012. This assessment was viewed as a prudent step to better understand what might be required to extend the planned service life of the Space Shuttle.

The Space Shuttle Program office, working with its contractors, conducted the preliminary effort between March and August of 2002, with activities planned to continue through August of 2003 leading to specific recommendations for new activities to start in FY 2004. Preliminary results of this assessment were briefed to NASA Headquarters in August of 2002 and provided information used during formulation of the revised Integrated Space Transportation Plan (ISTP) and development of the FY 2003 Budget Amendment. As elements of the revised ISTP and the amendment, the Shuttle Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) was created to extend the life of the Shuttle to the middle of the next decade.

While the August 2002 preliminary results of the 2020 Assessment were very helpful for formulating the ISTP revision and FY 2003 Budget Amendment, a more rigorous assessment process was sought in support of the new Space Shuttle Service Life Extension Program. In December 2002, the Office of Space Flight Deputy Associate Administrator for International Space Station and Space Shuttle Programs, Michael C. Kostelnik, established plans for an annual SLEP Summit as a process to both prioritize short-term needs and endorse long-term requirements to safely fly the Space Shuttle to meet the needs of the ISTP.

The initial SLEP Summit was held in March 2003 in Michoud, Louisiana at the plant where Shuttle external tanks are produced. Results from the Summit are currently being worked as part of NASA's internal budget formulation process in preparation of the FY 2005 budget request.

The August 2002 NASA HQ briefing of the Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment is attached and provided for historical interest only and does not serve as an endorsement of project recommendations.

Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment - (Excerpts)

ISTP Study for FY04 Budget Why are we here?

TASK 1. Assess Space Shuttle Strategy

a. Provide basis for figures of merit for selecting competitive sourcing business options and candidates for 2020 assessment. Also, provide methodology that links Shuttle safety with budget investments that goes beyond just Shuttle Safety Upgrades but include other activities (e.g., supportability, personnel facilities, competitive sourcing results).

b. Provide recommended Shuttle investment strategy for 2010 retirement date within budget guidance.

c. As retirement date is extended, recommended priority investments and competitive sourcing approach based on affect to figures of merit. Investment should be based on two scenarios: (i) within budget guidance, and (ii) over guidance.

d. Reconcile findings from independent studies (i.e., Rand competitive sourcing business study, and ICE for ops and upgrades, ASAP).

Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment: Strategy


  • Identify and prioritize the future investments required to safely and effectively fly Shuttle through 2020.


  • Safety drives the strategy
    • Maintain safety and integrity of systems and processes
    • Improve safety – make selected safety upgrades to vehicle systems

  • Integrate issues/concerns across the Shuttle to establish a priority of investments based on need (risk and urgency)
    • Safety upgrades
    • Maintaining safety and integrity (human capital, suppliers, CoFR, knowledge, etc.)
    • Infrastructure (facilities, special test equipment, ground processing/ production, etc.)

    • Develop and Utilize tools to aid in establishing overall investment need and priority
    • Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA)
    • Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)

  • Align with agency space transportation goals

  • Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment: Objectives

  • Primary objective is to maintain a safe, reliable space shuttle transportation system through 2020
  • 1. Maintain SAFETY: Resolve issues that represent increased safety risk
    • Hardware/software sustaining
    • Infrastructure

  • 2. Improve SAFETY: Implement improvements to reduce risk
    • Ground and flight safety

  • Utilize partnership of government and industry leadership and resources to develop integrated investment details — "living" prioritization and selection
  • Process must be flexible and recurring evaluations must be made as the projects mature. Today's vision can not predict all future needs and requirements

  • Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment: Observations

  • Program Elements and industry partners have worked to develop the strategy and to define the process that will allow the Shuttle to fly safely to 2020
  • Process was very thorough and broad in scope – overall tool ranking is representative of the program priorities
  • The beginnings of erosion are evident in many areas common to multiple Shuttle elements; flight subsystems, ground facilities, special test equipment, vendor support, process escapes, and human capital. Strategy must address all these areas

  • Space Shuttle Program 2020 Assessment: Forward Work Plan

  • Continue validation/ final scoring of additional 270+ initiatives
  • By November 1 (3 months)
    • Recommendations for FY03 special studies
    • Identification of specific initiatives for FY2003 starts

  • By February 1, 2003 (6 months)
    • Completed review/ scoring of all initiatives

  • By May 1, 2003 (9 months)
    • Initiate review of new or changed initiatives from current list
    • Review special studies and initiate recommendations

  • By August 1, 2003 (12 months)
    • Specific recommendations for initiatives for FY04 starts

    // end //

    More status reports and news releases or top stories.

    Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.