the modules of other countries and PIs from the U.S. will have access to facilities from other countries. Increased collaboration with international partners to share facilities and crew time could enable research that the U.S. science community cannot accomplish alone.

Finding: Looking at the facilities and equipment developed by the United States and its international partners, it can be seen that some research facilities are significantly delayed or missing from the Core Complete ISS, while some others appear to be redundant.

Recommendation: To maximize ISS facility usage, NASA should promote further collaborative interactions between the ISS science programs of the United States and those of its international partners in all disciplines.

Experiment Equipment and Facilities

Once the science prioritization on a cross-disciplinary basis is accomplished and the number of crew available for scientific activities is finalized, the decisions as to what experimental modules and experimental equipment are needed can be addressed intelligently. A rational plan that is consistent with stated scientific priorities is critical to assure and encourage the scientific community that the ISS has a scientific future.

Finding: The elimination or postponement of ISS experiment racks, modules, and equipment has greatly reduced the potential scientific yield of the ISS.

Recommendation: NASA should develop a plan providing for ISS experiment racks, modules, and equipment that is consistent with the scientific priorities of NASA and the ISS and is achievable within fiscal and schedule constraints.

The U.S. development cost of the ISS as currently planned has been estimated at approximately $26 billion. The additional cost to increase the crew number to seven is approximately $5 billion (IMCE, 2001).4 This means that a 20 percent increase in development cost would yield a 900 percent increase in crew research availability (4.5 versus 0.5 crew available for scientific activities). If the primary objective of the ISS is indeed to be a world-class laboratory in space, then the cost-benefit of taking this course of action is obvious. Not to take action would be akin to building a million-dollar home but stopping short of running electrical and water services to it. Without plans and decisions based on cross-disciplinary priorities that are clearly articulated and supported by corresponding allocations of resources, the ISS can never achieve the status of a world-class research laboratory.


While the numbers are the latest public numbers provided by NASA, they are currently being reviewed and updated by NASA, and may be revised in the future.

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