FIGURE 2.22 A trail of smoke is seen at dawn as STS-131 launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 5, 2010. SOURCE: Courtesy of NASA.
Finding 2.1b. Although NASA’s human spaceflight program and its post-shuttle crew requirements have not been well defined beyond operation of the ISS, the sizing of the Astronaut Corps to meet ISS crew requirements has been well modeled by using ISS crew selection, training and flight recovery times, and a plan for post-shuttle force reduction.
Finding 2.1c. Astronaut anthropometric (physical size) limitations for flying in the Soyuz limit flexibility in crew assignments in response to contingencies.
Conclusion 2.1. On the basis of its assessment of known and potential needs, the committee concluded that the currently projected minimum staffing target size for the active Astronaut Corps poses a risk to the U.S. investment in human spaceflight capabilities. The committee concluded that given the array of potential crew assignment constraints and uncertainty in future requirements, the Astronaut Corps appears to be sized below the minimum required. The committee notes that the current plan for the size of the Astronaut Corps does not have the flexibility to accommodate commercial, exploration, and new mission development tasks or unexpected increases in attrition.
• The committee recommends that the factor for uncertainty used by the Astronaut Office in its model to determine minimum staffing requirements for the Astronaut Corps be increased above the current 25 percent, which is inadequate to provide sufficient flexibility to meet the current flight manifest requirements reliably.
• In addition to task 1, the Astronaut Office should maintain the staff required to accomplish tasks 2 through 6 as listed in Finding 2.1a.