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 development cost to the United States of the ISS as currently planned is approximately $26 billion. The additional cost to increase the crew number to seven has been estimated at approximately $5 billion (IMCE, 2001).3 This 20 percent increase in development cost would yield a 900 percent increase in the crew time available for research (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 do so 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.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement