systems. The panel is concerned that no evidence of definition of operations demonstrations requirements for exploration missions was shown, and such requirements do not appear to be a part of the plans for utilization of the ISS for exploration missions.
Recommendation: Using a rigorous process based on formal prioritization and involvement of the operations community, NASA should develop and maintain a set of operations demonstrations that need to be conducted on the ISS to validate operational protocols and procedures for long-duration and long-distance missions such as the ones to Mars. These demonstrations should be integrated into utilization of the ISS to support exploration.
As discussed in previous NRC and IOM reports,5-9 no three-person crew (let alone the current two-person crew) will have time to do the necessary research and testing, nor will they be able to serve for human experimentation. Six astronauts will be needed to devote adequate time and effort to the research and testing essential for human missions to Mars and beyond.
Recommendation: NASA should give top priority to restoring the crew size of the ISS to at least six members at the earliest possible time, preferably by 2008.
Given that shuttle flights are being delayed and that no future shuttle flight schedule is certain, it is possible that the planned ISS configuration will not have been completed by 2010, putting the ISS contribution to exploration research at risk. It appears that there are no plans to provide a backup alternative for delivering ISS structural components and research modules if the shuttle does not complete this process by 2010.
Recommendation: NASA should plan options and decision points for obtaining a post-shuttle logistics capability for maintaining the ISS facility, for supporting the flight crew and research, and for demonstrating the technology and operations that will enable exploration missions. NASA should establish priorities and develop back-up plans to enable the post-2010 deployment of large ISS structural components and the research facilities required to accomplish exploration mission objectives.
1. Institute of Medicine (IOM). 2001. Safe Passage: Astronaut Care for Exploration Missions. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
2. National Research Council (NRC). 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
3. NRC. 2003. Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
4. IOM and NRC. 2006. A Risk Reduction Strategy for Human Exploration of Space: A Review of NASA’s Bioastronautics Roadmap. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
5. NRC. 2003. Factors Affecting the Utilization of the International Space Station for Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
6. NRC. 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century.