2

Guiding Principles

Based on discussions with NASA officials and its own deliberations, the task group concluded that the principal use of ISS will be for research. However, there certainly will be other uses of it, both early on and over its lifetime, such as education, staging for human space exploration expeditions, delivery of certain commercial services, possibly some limited-scale manufacturing of very high-value products, and even advertising or tourism, although none of these other uses appears to be ready to demand or justify a large fraction of ISS resources. Instead, for the foreseeable future, they are secondary candidates for using ISS, they remain unproven, or there is no clear policy on how they will be handled. Research, by contrast, is the one clearly defined potential use that can begin immediately and be sustained for a long time.

The task group's statement of task calls for assessing institutional arrangements to facilitate research on the ISS, and for its work the group adopted a broad definition of research that included basic scientific studies, applied research directed towards beneficial applications and commercial interests, engineering research, and the development of advanced technology. It did not, however, include performance testing or the monitoring of operational systems on the ISS or the installation or evaluation of systems to upgrade the operational capacity of the ISS. Nor did this definition cover the use of ISS as an operational site to support human exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit.

The task group agrees with NASA officials on important operational objectives for the organization that will support research utilization of the ISS. Based on prior experience with the space shuttle and Spacelab and current plans for ISS, there should be opportunities for improving the research potential along several lines, including the following:

  • Enhanced understanding of and sensitivity to research users and uses;

  • Shorter selection-to-flight cycle times;

  • Lower end-to-end investigation costs;



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INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR SPACE STATION RESEARCH 2 Guiding Principles Based on discussions with NASA officials and its own deliberations, the task group concluded that the principal use of ISS will be for research. However, there certainly will be other uses of it, both early on and over its lifetime, such as education, staging for human space exploration expeditions, delivery of certain commercial services, possibly some limited-scale manufacturing of very high-value products, and even advertising or tourism, although none of these other uses appears to be ready to demand or justify a large fraction of ISS resources. Instead, for the foreseeable future, they are secondary candidates for using ISS, they remain unproven, or there is no clear policy on how they will be handled. Research, by contrast, is the one clearly defined potential use that can begin immediately and be sustained for a long time. The task group's statement of task calls for assessing institutional arrangements to facilitate research on the ISS, and for its work the group adopted a broad definition of research that included basic scientific studies, applied research directed towards beneficial applications and commercial interests, engineering research, and the development of advanced technology. It did not, however, include performance testing or the monitoring of operational systems on the ISS or the installation or evaluation of systems to upgrade the operational capacity of the ISS. Nor did this definition cover the use of ISS as an operational site to support human exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit. The task group agrees with NASA officials on important operational objectives for the organization that will support research utilization of the ISS. Based on prior experience with the space shuttle and Spacelab and current plans for ISS, there should be opportunities for improving the research potential along several lines, including the following: Enhanced understanding of and sensitivity to research users and uses; Shorter selection-to-flight cycle times; Lower end-to-end investigation costs;

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INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR SPACE STATION RESEARCH Streamlined processes and procedures; and Simpler investigator interfaces for initiation and conduct of research activities. Recognizing that research is the principal use of the ISS and that safety is always the highest priority, the task group examined what guiding principles would be needed for any organization charged with optimizing the use of ISS for research. The following principles emerged from this examination: Ensuring high-quality basic and applied research should be paramount. Given that the principal purpose of the ISS is to provide a research platform in the space environment, the primary mission of the organization that will be set up should be to foster, facilitate, and enhance the conduct of the highest quality research. The responsibility for managing and supporting research does not require similar involvement in all other ISS activities. While the unique aspects of serving a research user community will lead to a unique role for a research support organization, other aspects of the overall ISS operation and other potential users of the facility (e.g. commercial operations, human exploration systems testing, public education) can be accommodated separately. The management approaches that are needed for effective research utilization are not necessarily the same as those needed for effective maintenance and operation of the ISS. Furthermore, while the research support organization needs to be cognizant of other ISS (nonresearch) operations, it does not necessarily need to execute all those activities. The research user community should have early, substantive, and continued involvement in all phases of planning, designing, and implementing research utilization of the ISS. The research support organization will be expected to minimize the separation between the research community and the ISS program and serve as an advocate for research. The proposed organization must provide a faster, simpler, user-friendly interface between investigators and the steps they must take to access the resources available for the research mission. The organization will need to be flexible and capable of adapting over time in response to changing needs and lessons learned. The guiding philosophy of the organization should incorporate the notion that structure and processes will need to evolve from the very beginning, reflecting, among other things, changes in the composition of the research user community. Just as importantly, such flexibility should keep the organization from becoming just another bureaucratic layer on top of existing processes. That is, the ISS will need to be supported by an organization that can enhance its performance by increasing productivity and efficiency without adding to the number or cost of the transactions required to accomplish the work. Basic and applied scientific and engineering research users should be selected for scientific and technical merit, as determined by external peer review. The selection processes for space technology R&D and for commercial R&D, which tend to be

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INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR SPACE STATION RESEARCH mission-driven and product-driven, respectively, need not be the same as the processes for selecting scientific and engineering research, but they should meet similarly well-defined standards. Other relevant criteria might include compatibility with the ISS, ability of the research team to carry out the proposed project, technical and financial feasibility, the need for a spaceflight environment (e.g. microgravity, vacuum), and high standards of technical execution. In Chapter 3, the task group describes alternative management models and tests them against the guiding principles elucidated.