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Upgrading the Space Shuttle (1999)

Chapter: Apendix D: List of Recommendations

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Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
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APPENDIX D List of Recommendations

Recommendation 1. NASA should benchmark other large organizations' investment processes for technological upgrades and attempt to identify and emulate appropriate processes and investment strategies.

Recommendation 2. The ability of a shuttle-unique upgrade to support an increased flight rate should not be a factor in the prioritization process, unless NASA can show through a viable business plan that has been reviewed and approved by financial and technical experts inside and outside the agency, as well as national policy makers (1) that the shuttle could attract enough business to justify the increased flight rate, and (2) that the shuttle program would not unfairly compete with commercial launch vehicles or pose unnecessary risks to a national asset.

Recommendation 3. The Space Shuttle Program should reassess the goals used to prioritize candidate upgrades to ensure that they reflect the upgrade program's priorities, are feasible, and are clearly understandable to everyone working in the program.

Recommendation 4. The Human Exploration and Development of Space Enterprise should bring the cost goals for the space shuttle in its strategic plan into line with budget and policy realities.

Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
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Recommendation 5. NASA should continue to increase the scope and capabilities of the quantitative risk assessment system by improving its models of failures attributable to combinations of risks, human error, abort modes, on-orbit hazards, reentry and landing, and software. Until these improvements are made, the Space Shuttle Program Development Office should be very cautious in using the quantitative risk assessment system to aid in prioritizing upgrades.

Recommendation 6. NASA should take care that the Decision Support System's quantitative tools are used as a supplement to, not as a substitute for, formal qualitative evaluations. Expert Elicitation should be considered as an additional formal qualitative tool. Also, NASA should consider modifying the quantification algorithm that the Decision Support System employs for cost-benefit comparisons so that it uses full probability values rather than 20th percentile S-curve values.

Recommendation 7. All calculations, comparisons of costs and cost savings, and cost-benefit assessments done by NASA, as well as its Decision Support System independent contractor, should be performed using fixed-year dollars and should include all costs (including hidden costs) associated with the upgrade.

Recommendation 8. NASA should provide stronger incentives for the shuttle prime contractor to propose, finance, and implement upgrades to meet the shuttle program's goals.

Recommendation 9. Upgrade project managers should involve industry more in the definition and early development of candidate upgrades.

Recommendation 10. The Space Shuttle Program should institute a process early in the development of a candidate upgrade to ensure that the upgrade is compatible with other shuttle systems and relevant to meeting program goals.

Recommendation 11. NASA should limit the software changes associated with new shuttle upgrades. The agency should consider standardizing its guidelines for using commercial off-the-shelf software in shuttle upgrades.

Recommendation 12. Before embarking on the larger, more costly upgrades, NASA should examine alternative solutions and conduct trade-off studies to determine if the proposed upgrade is the best way to achieve the desired result.

Recommendation 13. The Space Shuttle Program Development Office should not consider proposed upgrades as stand-alone modifications but should look for

Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
×

opportunities to combine upgrades (or features of upgrades) to efficiently meet future requirements.

Recommendation 14. NASA should conduct an audit of the requirements, specifications, plans, schedules, development budgets, status, and life cycle costs of the checkout launch and control system project. The objective of this audit should not be to cancel the upgrade but to estimate more accurately the time and cost required to complete it and to identify potential problems early enough to rectify them.

Recommendation 15. The Space Shuttle Program Development Office should solicit additional proposals for upgrades to protect the shuttle from meteoroids and orbital debris.

Recommendation 16. NASA should continue studying potential modifications to the APUs to better determine the costs, benefits, and appropriate scope of an upgrade. Developments in electric power systems worldwide should be monitored to identify technologies and techniques that could be useful for an APU upgrade.

Recommendation 17. NASA should continue its strategy of judiciously replacing obsolete avionics components while developing a plan for a future improved architecture. Consistent with the year 2000 decision process, NASA should develop scaleable, long-term requirements and interface definitions for the future architecture.

Recommendation 18. If NASA decides to implement the channel-wall nozzle upgrade, it should take steps to ensure that channel-wall nozzles are available in the United States, either by stockpiling additional nozzles or developing a channel-wall nozzle manufacturing capability in the United States.

Recommendation 19. NASA should pursue the extended nose landing gear only if future plans require that the shuttle land with heavier payloads than are currently allowable.

Recommendation 20. NASA should continue to explore the costs and benefits of PEM cells before making a decision on a future shuttle fuel cell. Planners of future space vehicles and/or missions that could benefit from PEM fuel cells should be closely involved in these studies.

Recommendation 21. Before NASA makes any decision on implementation, it should very carefully study the risks inherent in changing to a nontoxic OMS/RCS system and conduct trade-off studies to determine whether modifications to the existing system may be a more cost-effective means of meeting program goals. Commonality with the propulsion (and potentially life-support) systems

Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
×

of the ISS and other future NASA programs should be considered in any final design.

Recommendation 22. NASA should reassess the costs (including those associated with surface tension issues and development testing) and benefits of all options for dealing with the corrosion problems in the flash evaporator system before choosing a solution.

Recommendation 23. NASA should formally evaluate the merits of the five-segment reusable solid rocket booster as it prepares for the decision on the future of the shuttle program. A thorough evaluation of the potential for the separate implementation of subsets of the proposal should be included in this assessment.

Recommendation 24. NASA should initiate a detailed independent assessment of configuration trade-offs, costs, and programmatic and technical risks for a new shuttle booster.

Recommendation 25. NASA should coordinate closely with other government and industry transportation initiatives in determining the need and, if appropriate, the resources for any new shuttle booster.

Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
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Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
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Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
×
Page 68
Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Apendix D: List of Recommendations." National Research Council. 1999. Upgrading the Space Shuttle. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6384.
×
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The space shuttle is a unique national resource. One of only two operating vehicles that carries humans into space, the space shuttle functions as a scientific laboratory and as a base for construction, repair, and salvage missions in low Earth orbit. It is also a heavy-lift launch vehicle (able to deliver more than 18,000 kg of payload to low Earth orbit) and the only current means of returning large payloads to Earth. Designed in the 1970s, the shuttle has frequently been upgraded to improve safety, cut operational costs, and add capability. Additional upgrades have been proposed-and some are under way-to combat obsolescence, further reduce operational costs, improve safety, and increase the ability of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to support the space station and other missions.

In May 1998, NASA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to examine the agency's plans for further upgrades to the space shuttle system. The NRC was asked to assess NASA's method for evaluating and selecting upgrades and to conduct a top-level technical assessment of proposed upgrades.

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