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Space Station: Cost to Operate After Assembly is Uncertain (Letter
Report, 08/06/1999, GAO/NSIAD-99-177).
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) estimate for the cost to
operate the International Space Station after assembly is completed,
focusing on: (1) whether any space station-related costs are not
included in NASA's estimate; (2) the level of uncertainty in the cost
estimate for operations, especially with regard to the potential impact
of changes in Russian participation; and (3) how NASA funding
requirements will be reduced by sharing costs with international
partners or through commercial use and operations.
GAO noted that: (1) NASA's $1.3 billion estimate does not include all
funding requirements related to space station operations; (2) additional
items that will have to be funded in the future within the space station
budget include costs for upgrading obsolete systems and operating an
alternative propulsion module; (3) NASA has not developed detailed
estimates for potential upgrades to combat component obsolescence and
improve performance, but space station officials believe that a robust
enhancement program could cost $100 million or more per year; (4) NASA
has not estimated the cost of operating an alternative propulsion module
being procured to provide reboost if Russia is unable to provide that
function; (5) items that GAO determined to be space station-related that
are funded in other NASA budget lines include space shuttle flights,
civil service personnel, principal investigators, and space
communications; these are estimated to cost a total of $2.5 billion in
fiscal year 2004; (6) there is a high degree of uncertainty in NASA's
estimate for the cost to operate the space station from 2005 to 2014;
(7) NASA's original estimate of $13 billion for operating the space
station was developed to aid in evaluating life-cycle costs of redesign
options rather than to accurately forecast budget needs; (8) this
estimate did not consider end-of-mission costs for either extending the
life of the space station beyond 10 years or decommissioning it; (9)
adding to the uncertainty of future costs, the full impact on operations
if Russia is unable to fulfill its obligations is not known at this
time; (10) NASA would incur costs to operate an alternative propulsion
module, but does not yet know whether there will be a shortfall in
Russian logistics flights or how such a shortfall would be spread among
the shuttle and international partner resupply vehicles; (11) there is
insufficient information at this time to determine the amount that NASA
funding requirements could be reduced by international partners'
contributions toward common operating costs; (12) in sharing operating
responsibilities for the space station, NASA and Russia have agreed to
exchange services rather than funds; (13) however, NASA and Russia may
not be able to achieve a balance in the services provided to each other
if Russia cannot fulfill its obligations; (14) NASA's share of common
operating costs has increased and could change again if international
partners revise their participation in the space station program; and
(15) allowing partners to pay common costs with services may not reduce
NASA funding requirements.
--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------
 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-99-177
     TITLE:  Space Station: Cost to Operate After Assembly is Uncertain
      DATE:  08/06/1999
   SUBJECT:  Aerospace research
	     Cost analysis
	     Space exploration
	     International cooperation
	     Life cycle costs
	     Cost control
	     Strategic planning
	     Future budget projections
	     Cost sharing (finance)
IDENTIFIER:  Automated Transfer Vehicle
	     H-II Transfer Vehicle
	     Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator
	     NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System
	     Russia
	     Japan
	     Europe
	     NASA Space Station Service Module
	     Progress Space Vehicle
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A Report to Congressional Requesters
GAO/NSIAD-99-177
August 1999 SPACE STATION Cost to Operate After Assembly Is
Uncertain
National Security and International Affairs Division
B-280736 Letter August 6, 1999 The Honorable F. James
Sensenbrenner, Jr. Chairman Ranking Minority Member Committee on
Science House of Representatives
When completed around 2004, the goal of the International Space
Station (ISS) is to provide the United States and its
international partners with an Earth orbiting facility that
supports human habitation and scientific research in a
microgravity environment. Because of Russia's ongoing
problems in funding its share of the space station's construction
costs, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is
concerned that Russia may also not be able to fulfill its
commitments to fund ISS operations costs. NASA estimated that the
annual cost to operate the completed space station will average
$1.3 billion, or $13 billion over a
10- year mission life. NASA anticipates sharing these costs with
its international partners, and it hopes to further reduce funding
requirements through sharing with commercial users or through more
efficient commercial operations. As requested by you and the late
Representative George E. Brown, Jr., we reviewed NASA's estimate
for the cost to operate the space station after assembly is
completed. Specifically, we were asked to determine (1) if any
space station- related costs are not included in NASA's estimate;
(2) the level of uncertainty in the cost estimate for operations,
especially with regard to the potential impact of changes in
Russian participation; and
(3) how NASA funding requirements will be reduced by sharing costs
with international partners or through commercial use and
operations. We reported on NASA's efforts to promote commercial
activity on the space station in a separate report to you. 1
Results in Brief NASA's $1. 3 billion estimate does not include all 
funding requirements related to space station operations. NASA does 
not prepare budget 1 Space Station: Status of Efforts to Determine 
Commercial Potential (GAO/NSIAD-99-153R, June 30, 1999).
Results in Brief NASA's $1. 3 billion estimate does not include
all funding requirements related to space station operations. NASA
does not prepare budget 1 Space Station: Status of Efforts to
Determine Commercial Potential (  GAO/NSIAD-99-153R , June 30,
1999).
estimates on a full- cost basis because it has not completed
implementation of its full cost accounting system. Additional
items that will have to be funded in the future within the space
station budget include costs for upgrading obsolete systems and
operating an alternative propulsion module. NASA has not developed
detailed estimates for potential upgrades to combat component
obsolescence and improve performance, but space
station officials believe that a robust enhancement program could
cost $100 million or more per year. NASA has not estimated the
cost of operating an alternative propulsion module being procured
to provide reboost if Russia is unable to provide that function.
Items that we determined to be space station- related that are
funded in other NASA
budget lines include space shuttle flights, civil service
personnel, principal investigators, and space communications;
these are estimated to cost a total of $2.5 billion in fiscal year
2004. 2 When NASA implements full cost accounting in 2001, some
costs currently in other NASA budget lines will be included in the
space station budget. In commenting on our draft report, NASA
stated that shuttle flights should be allocated to the overall
cost of operating the space station using a marginal cost of $84
million per flight rather than an average cost of $435 million. We
believe the average cost per flight more accurately represents
NASA resources related to operating the
space station. There is a high degree of uncertainty in NASA's
estimate for the cost to operate the space station from 2005 to
2014. NASA's original estimate of $13 billion for operating the
space station was developed to aid in
evaluating life- cycle costs of redesign options rather than to
accurately forecast budget needs. This estimate did not consider
end- of- mission costs for either extending the life of the space
station beyond 10 years or decommissioning it. The estimate was
also developed for an earlier space station configuration that has
since been modified. NASA does not prepare detailed budget
estimates for the space station and other programs beyond fiscal
year 2004, the last year of its current 5- year budget- planning
period. NASA recently began an effort to review its operations
cost estimate and develop a long- range funding profile that would
better reflect annual requirements over the 10- year operations
period. Adding to the uncertainty of future costs, the full impact
on operations if Russia is unable to fulfill its obligations is
not known at this time. NASA would incur costs to operate an
alternative propulsion module, but does not yet know whether there
will 2 This amount does not include the cost of space
communications.
be a shortfall in Russian logistics flights or how such a
shortfall would be spread among the shuttle and international
partner resupply vehicles.
There is insufficient information at this time to determine the
amount that NASA funding requirements could be reduced by
international partners' contributions toward common operating
costs. In sharing operating responsibilities for the space
station, NASA and Russia have agreed to exchange services rather
than funds. However, NASA and Russia may not be able to achieve a
balance in the services provided to each other if Russia cannot
fulfill its obligations. NASA's share of common operating costs
has increased and could change again if international partners
revise their participation in the space station program. It is
likely that the partners will provide services for the space
station rather than transfer funding to NASA
to pay for their shares of operating costs. Allowing partners to
pay common costs with services may not reduce NASA funding
requirements. For example, if partners pay for their common costs
by launching space station payloads for NASA that could have been
launched on the space shuttle, it likely will not offset NASA's
budget. At this time, it is not possible to accurately determine
what the partners may owe for reimbursable costs
for shuttle launch services and communications, or how the
partners would pay for these services. Because NASA has already
initiated actions to review its ISS operations cost estimate and
to develop a 10- year funding profile for the period after
assembly is complete, we are not making recommendations in this
report. We will monitor NASA's progress in developing the 10- year
funding profile.
Background In 1984, President Ronald Reagan directed NASA to
develop a permanently manned space station and invited other
countries to participate. NASA's
original partners included Canada, Europe, and Japan. 3 In 1993,
the space station was redesigned to incorporate significant
contributions from Russia. 4 In 1997, Brazil became a participant
in the program. Appendix I describes the partners' contributions
to the space station.
3 Members of the European Space Agency participating in the ISS
program include Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, the
Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United
Kingdom. 4 Space Station: Update on the Impact of the Expanded
Russian Role (GAO/NSIAD-94-248, July 29, 1994).
The ISS will be a large and complex space vehicle, weighing more
than four times Russia's existing Mir space station. It will take
more than 80 launches and 1,900 hours of spacewalks over a 6- year
period to complete assembly. The first two elements of the space
station were launched in 1998, with the completion of assembly
currently planned for 2004. When assembly is complete, ISS will
measure 356 feet and weigh nearly one million pounds. In 1998, we
estimated that U. S. funding for the space station development and
assembly would total $53 billion. 5 Figure 1
depicts the fully assembled space station. 5 International Space
Station: U. S. Life- Cycle Funding Requirements (GAO/NSIAD-98-147,
May 22, 1998).
Figure 1: Artist's Conception of Fully Assembled ISS on Orbit.
Source: NASA.
Estimating the cost to operate a facility as complex as the space
station so far into the future is a challenging task. After
assembly is complete, ISS will begin a long- term mission that
will run from 2005 to 2014. During this 10- year period, NASA
estimates that annual space station operating costs
will average $1.3 billion, for a total of $13 billion. After this
initial period of
operations, NASA and its partners will decide whether to continue
to operate the space station and for how long.
Space Station Budget NASA's space station budget line does not
contain all funding requirements Does Not Contain All
related to space station operations. NASA has not completed
implementation of a full- cost accounting system. Consequently,
estimates Related Items
presented in this report were not prepared on a full- cost basis.
Additional costs to replace or upgrade aging components and to
operate a propulsion module will need to be funded within the
space station budget. NASA's annual estimate of $1.3 billion for
operations does not include costs totaling more than $2.5 billion
for items such as space shuttle flights, civil service personnel,
principal investigators, and space communications.
Full- cost Accounting NASA initiated a plan to implement full-
cost accounting practices in 1995 to respond to new federal
financial accounting standards and to direction from an internal
NASA review team. In 1995, the federal government approved new
managerial cost- accounting standards, including a specific
standard on full- cost accounting. In addition, during 1995, NASA
completed a Zero Base Review that involved a comprehensive
analysis related to streamlining NASA activities. The Zero Base
Review team indicated that NASA should improve cost information
and pursue full- cost management. NASA's full- cost concept
integrates several fundamental accounting,
budgeting, and management improvements. NASA officials told us
that implementation of full- cost accounting was originally
scheduled for fiscal year 1999, but has been delayed to fiscal
year 2001. When it is implemented, the space station budget will
include several additional items that are currently funded in
other budgets. For example, the civil service and space
communications costs related to the space station will be funded
in the space station budget. In addition, the space station budget
will include other costs, such as a share of the general and
administrative costs
and institutional capabilities providing direct support to the
program.
Additional Costs That Will In estimating the cost to operate the
space station, NASA considers only Need to Be Funded in Space
those elements that are funded in the space station budget. 6
Table 1 shows Station Budget Line
the funding requirements for these elements for fiscal year 2004
as estimated in NASA's fiscal year 2000 budget submission. 7
Appendix II provides brief descriptions of each of the budget
elements that are related to space station operations.
6 The NASA budget is divided into five main budget lines:
International Space Station; Launch Vehicles and Payloads;
Science, Aeronautics and Technology; Mission Support; and
Inspector General. 7 NASA's fiscal year 2004 budget estimate for
the space station includes $1,361 million for operations and $212
million for development, for a total of $1,573 million.
Table 1: Elements of Operations Cost to Be Funded in Space Station
Budget
Current dollars in millions
Elements FY 2004 a
Operations planning & cargo integration $21 Sustaining engineering
224 Logistics & maintenance 128 Station operations support 202
Launch site processing 65 Institutional support 62 Utilization
Support 108 Research Projects 360 Crew Return Vehicle Operations
23 b Unallocated program reserves 169
Total $1, 361 c
a According to NASA officials, the operations portion of the
projected budget for fiscal year 2004 the year the space station
should be completed should approximate the budget for the
operations period after assembly is completed. b Operations costs
are included in the crew return vehicle (CRV) development budget
in fiscal
year 2004. c Total does not add due to rounding.
The current estimate does not reflect the cost of likely additions
to the program. Specifically, NASA has begun planning for the
replacement or upgrade of obsolete components as the space station
ages. In addition, NASA will procure an alternative propulsion
module to reduce dependence on Russia for critical guidance,
navigation, control, and reboost functions.
Replacing Obsolete Components NASA recognizes that obsolescence
will be an issue for the space station and that additional funding
will likely be needed to fully address it. An April 1998 report by
the NASA Advisory Council also raised the obsolescence issue. 8
The report stated that based on the current speed of
technological advancement, the normal rate of obsolescence in
space systems and computer technology would cause major cost
growth for the space station in later years. In its response to
the report, NASA acknowledged that the space station program did
not have any funds specifically for obsolescence upgrades. While
the program had funds
8 Report of the Cost Assessment and Validation Task Force on the
International Space Station, NASA Advisory Council, April 21,
1998.
budgeted for sustaining engineering and logistics and maintenance,
NASA stated that those monies would be inadequate to support a
meaningful upgrade program for major systems. The logistics and
maintenance
budget, for instance, funds the replacement of components that
fail as a result of normal wear and tear. These funds could also
be used to upgrade minor systems or discrete components. However,
additional funding would be needed to upgrade major systems whose
replacement is not included in the budget. NASA has begun planning
for the replacement of obsolete components as a part of its pre-
planned program improvements. The objectives of this program
include: increasing reliability, maintainability, and
sustainability; enhancing research productivity and capability;
and improving operational
capability and reducing costs. Funding for the program is
currently limited to $28. 9 million for studying high priority
enhancements. The studies have identified several candidates for
replacement or upgrade. For example,
NASA is studying how to upgrade the space station's current
computer system from 386- based processors, which are considered
third- generation, to at least fifth- generation processors that
are currently available. NASA is concerned that the 386 processors
will not be able to handle growth in processing requirements and
that parts for these processors may not be
available 5 to 10 years from now. NASA has not yet developed
detailed cost estimates for implementing the enhancements
identified in the studies. Space station officials said that a
robust enhancement program could potentially cost $100 million or
more per year. Upgrading and enhancing the components could become
more critical if the space station will operate for more than 10
years.
Operating a Propulsion Module NASA will also need to fund the
costs of operating a propulsion module within the space station
budget. Russia is responsible for providing the propulsion
capability for the space station as well as guidance, navigation,
and control functions. Because of Russia's ongoing financial
problems, NASA is studying an alternative propulsion and guidance
and navigation capability. Space station officials have not yet
developed an estimate for the cost of operating a propulsion
module. Most of the operating costs would be incurred for spares
and sustaining engineering.
Some Costs of Space Station Several items related to the space
station are not included in its operations
Operations Are Funded in estimate because they are funded in other
NASA budget lines. These Other NASA Budget Lines items-- which
include the annual cost of space shuttle support, civil servants,
principal investigators, and space communications-- total more
than $2. 5 billion in fiscal year 2004. 9 When NASA implements
full cost accounting in 2001, some of these costs will be
reflected in the space station budget. Space Shuttle Support NASA
estimates that five to six shuttle flights a year will be needed
to
support the space station after assembly is completed: Five
flights will be launched each year to resupply the space station
and rotate crew, and a sixth shuttle flight will be launched every
3 years to exchange the CRV. Based on an average cost of $435
million per flight in fiscal year 2004, about $2. 2 billion to $2.
6 billion of the annual space shuttle budget should be considered
space station- related costs. 10 Space station- related shuttle
costs would increase commensurately if the
number of flights to the space station increases because the
international partners cannot fulfill their launch commitments or
because the shuttle has to rotate two crew return vehicles instead
of one. An increase in the number of shuttle flights dedicated to
supporting the space station may
also increase the shuttle budget if the overall flight rate
increases. In developing the shuttle budget, NASA plans to support
seven flights per year. If an additional space station- related
flight can be accommodated within those seven planned flights, the
shuttle budget would remain the same and another $435 million of
that total budget would be considered a space station- related
cost. If an additional space station- related flight would
increase the flight rate from seven to eight, the shuttle budget
would
have to be increased by the marginal costs for processing another
flight. The marginal cost includes the costs of personnel,
hardware, and consumables such as propellant that can be added or
removed from the program when there is a temporary adjustment in
the flight rate. NASA estimates that the marginal cost for adding
one shuttle flight to the overall manifest is about $84 million.
Civil Servants, Principal
The cost for salaries and benefits associated with the
approximately 2,300 Investigators, and Space
civil servants supporting space station operations in fiscal year
2004 is Communications around $260 million. Civil servant costs
are funded in the Research and Program Management portion of
NASA's Mission Support budget. Funding
9 This amount does not include the cost of space communications.
10 Average cost per flight is defined as the total cost to operate
the shuttle on a recurring and sustained basis for a given year
divided by the number of flights planned for that year. NASA plans
to fly seven flights annually during the operations period. The
average and marginal costs per flight are based on fiscal year
2004 estimates projected in NASA's fiscal year 2000 budget
submission to Congress.
for principal investigators who will be flying experiments on the
space station is estimated at $49 million in fiscal year 2004.
These costs are funded in the Office of Life and Microgravity
Sciences and Applications line in NASA's Science, Aeronautics, and
Technology budget. Finally, communications costs for the space
station are currently funded in the
Space Communications portion of NASA's Mission Support
appropriation. NASA is in the process of determining the extent of
these costs as it combines its space operations activities
(communications, data transport,
and space vehicle command and control) under the Consolidated
Space Operations Contract.
High Degree of There is a high degree of uncertainty in the
estimated cost to operate the Uncertainty in NASA's space station
from fiscal year 2005 to 2014. NASA has not prepared a
detailed budget estimate for the space station beyond fiscal year
2004, the Estimate of Cost to
last year of its 5- year budget planning period. NASA recently
began Operate the Space
developing a 10- year funding profile for the operations period
and expects Station
to have a preliminary estimate in the fall of 1999. Adding to the
uncertainty of future costs is the question of Russia's ability to
fulfill its commitments and whether NASA may have to compensate
for a shortfall in Russian support for the space station. Detailed
Budget Estimates NASA's initial $1.3 billion estimate for annual
operations costs discussed for the Operations Period
previously did not provide a basis for developing reliable budget
estimates Have Not Yet Been
for the period after assembly is complete. During a major redesign
of the Developed
space station in 1993, NASA developed an estimate for operations
to aid in evaluating the life- cycle cost of various design
alternatives. According to NASA officials, this estimate was not
meant to be a rigorous assessment of funding requirements during
the operations period. As part of the redesign process, a NASA
review team estimated the funding requirements for the second full
year of operations after the space station is completely
assembled. The team believed that the second year represented a
typical
year of operations. 11 This team arrived at an estimate of $1.3
billion for a typical year of operation, and it extrapolated that
figure over the 10- year life of the space station for a total of
$13 billion. This estimate did not
consider end- of- mission costs for either extending the life of
the space station beyond 10 years or decommissioning it. The
estimate was also
11 The first year after completing assembly the space station
would involve on- orbit verification of hardware and systems and
would likely have a higher than normal number of anomalies or
problems.
developed for a space station configuration that has since been
modified to include significant Russian participation and added
elements such as a propulsion module, CRVs, a third connecting
node, and a centrifuge accommodation module.
NASA program managers responsible for each of the various program
cost elements have not yet projected funding requirements for the
operations period (2005 to 2014) because it is outside the current
budget- planning horizon. NASA's current budget- planning horizon
is 5 years, extending only through fiscal year 2004. Moreover,
NASA officials told us that with all the changes and replanning
that have occurred in the ISS program in recent years, they have
had to focus budget activities on the development and assembly
period.
Some NASA managers told us that it would be difficult to project
the funding needed for some budget components until they knew how
well the space station would function. For example, they would
need to know actual failure rates for space station components
before they can
accurately project the funding needed for spares and maintenance.
Similarly, the actual number of anomalies and engineering problems
the space station experiences will drive the funding requirements
for the sustaining engineering function. In the interim, NASA
officials told us that they will rely on computer modeling and
analyses to project funding
requirements for these items. Even when NASA has historical data
on which to make projections for elements, the total cost for
these elements can depend to a large degree on unpredictable
factors. For example, NASA has sufficient information to
accurately estimate the launch site processing costs for a shuttle
flight to support the space station. However, these costs could
vary depending on
the number of shuttle flights in a given year. NASA plans to
provide five or six shuttle flights annually to support the space
station, but it could be responsible for additional flights if any
international partner is unable to meet its launch and resupply
commitments. There are uncertainties in partner resupply
commitments because (1) the payload capacity of the European and
Japanese cargo vehicles may be different than their design
specifications when the vehicles are actually built, (2) there is
concern about the number of Progress vehicles Russia may launch,
and (3) technical problems or launch failures could also
temporarily ground some of the resupply vehicles.
As part of its fiscal year 2001 budget review cycle, NASA recently
began an effort to review its operations cost estimate and to
develop a 10- year funding profile that would more accurately
reflect the year- to- year costs of the program after assembly is
complete. NASA officials expect to complete
a preliminary estimate of operations costs in the fall of 1999.
This estimate will be refined over the next program year. Many of
the key people who need to be involved in developing the long-
term estimate are currently working on near- term assembly
operations. As part of the review, NASA officials plan to identify
factors or scenarios that could significantly alter the profile.
Russia's Ability to Fulfill When Russia joined the program in
1993, it agreed to provide critical Obligations Is Uncertain
hardware and services for space station operations. Russia is
responsible for providing crew living quarters, life support
systems, guidance, navigation, and attitude control for the space
station through its Service Module. In addition, Russia is
responsible for supplying fuel and dry cargo (food, water,
clothes, spares, air, and nitrogen) and reboosting the space
station to maintain its proper orbit. The reboost and dry cargo
resupply will be accomplished by unmanned Russian Progress
vehicles. Finally, Russia will launch and return crews for the
space station on Soyuz vehicles. The Soyuz also will serve as the
only emergency crew return
vehicles until the U. S.- developed crew return vehicle is
available in 2004. Beginning in late 1995, NASA became
increasingly concerned about Russia's ability to adequately fund
its space station commitments. Since then, shortfalls in Russian
funding have led to delays in the delivery of the Service Module.
NASA continues to be concerned about Russia's funding problems.
For the 10 years of operations after assembly is complete,
NASA's primary concern is Russia's ability to produce and launch
enough Progress vehicles to reboost and resupply the space
station. Current plans call for Russia to launch three to four
Progress vehicles annually to the space station after assembly is
completed. NASA officials believe that Russia will be able to meet
this Progress launch
rate, but NASA has developed contingency plans to protect against
a shortfall. 12 NASA is studying development of an alternative
propulsion module that could provide guidance, navigation,
attitude control, and 12 Space Station: Status of Russian
Involvement and Cost Control Efforts (GAO/T-NSIAD-99-117, Apr. 29,
1999).
reboost if Russia is unable to perform those functions. According
to space station program officials, propellant used by this module
would be scavenged from excess fuel on the shuttle while it is
docked to ISS during resupply missions. As discussed earlier, NASA
has not yet estimated the cost of operating this module. NASA is
also reviewing options for launching additional propellant and
cargo on the shuttle and on the planned European and Japanese
resupply vehicles in the event Russia reduces the number of
Progress flights. NASA has not determined how the
increased resupply requirements would be spread among the vehicles
or if additional shuttle flights would be needed. Unclear if NASA
In sharing operating responsibilities for the space station, NASA
and Russia Funding Requirements
have agreed to exchange services rather than funds. However, NASA
and Russia may not be able achieve a balance in the services
provided to each Will Be Reduced by other. The cost of operating
the space station is also supposed to be shared Cost Sharing
with NASA's other international partners. NASA's share of common
Arrangements With
operating costs has increased slightly as partners have reduced
their participation. Allowing the other partners to provide
services to reimburse Partners NASA for their shares of common
costs may not offset NASA funding requirements. The partners may
also reimburse NASA for shuttle and communication services, but
the amount and form of reimbursement cannot be accurately
estimated at this time.
NASA and Russia May Not For purposes of assigning operations
responsibilities and costs, the space Achieve Balance in Services
station is divided into the United States On- orbit Segment
(USOS), which Provided includes hardware provided by NASA, Canada,
Europe, and Japan and the Russian Orbital Segment. Interaction
between the two segments is governed by agreements between NASA,
representing USOS interests, and
the Russian Space Agency (RSA). The underlying basis for the
agreements is that the partners in each segment keep what they
bring; that is, NASA and the USOS partners will retain utilization
rights in their segment and operate and maintain elements they
provide. Russia will retain utilization rights to its facilities,
and it will operate and maintain Russian elements. The NASA- RSA
agreements recognize that it may be more efficient for certain
services to be provided by a particular partner. A goal of the
agreements is to achieve a balance in services provided by
partners in each segment to the other over the assembly and
operations period so as not to require an exchange of funds
between partners.
The balance in services that was agreed to may not be achieved if
Russia reduces the number of Progress vehicles it launches to
supply the space station. In 1996, NASA and RSA signed the Balance
Protocol listing the services that each side would provide to the
other during the assembly and operation periods. 13 As part of the
balance in services, Russia agreed to deliver half of the USOS
propellant requirements during the 10 years of operations after
assembly is completed. 14 However, if the Russians only
launch three to four Progress vehicles per year, NASA's analysis
of propellant resupply indicates that Russia will not be able to
deliver the full amount of propellant as agreed. The shortfall
would be delivered by a
European cargo vehicle that will also transport propellant for the
USOS. According to a space station program official, the 1996
protocol would have to be amended to maintain balance if the
Russians are unable to provide all of the agreed to hardware and
services. The Balance Protocol
provides that if it is necessary in the future to adjust NASA and
RSA contributions and obligations, the parties will attempt to
resolve any issues through the use of barter.
Common Operating Costs International agreements governing the
space station partnership specify Are to Be Shared by USOS that
each USOS partner is responsible for funding the operation and
Partners maintenance of the elements that it contributes, the
research activities it conducts, and a share of common operating
costs. Under current planning,
NASA will fund the entire cost of USOS common supplies and ground
operations costs and then be reimbursed by the other partners for
their shares. Eventually, partners may provide some common items,
such as crew supplies or propellant, directly rather than
reimburse NASA for those
costs. The partners' shares of USOS common costs are as follows:
NASA, 76. 6 percent; Canada, 2.3 percent; Europe, 8.3 percent; and
Japan, 12. 8 percent. These percentages are linked to the
partners' rights to research utilization resources on the space
station. For example, NASA is entitled to 76.6 percent of crew
time, power, and data processing available
for research and is therefore responsible for 76.6 percent of the
common costs. Utilization rights are determined by each partner's
contributions to 13 Protocol Including Terms, Conditions, and
Assumptions, Summary Balance of Contributions and
Obligations to International Space Station (ISS) and Resulting
Rights of NASA and RSA to ISS Utilization Accommodations and
Resources, and Flight Opportunities, June 11, 1996.
14 Partners in both segments are responsible for providing
propellant to the space station proportion to the mass of hardware
each provides. Therefore, USOS partners are responsible for
providing 71 percent of the total propellant required during 10
years of operations after assembly is completed and Russia is
responsible for providing the remaining 29 percent.
the development and assembly of the space station. Under bilateral
agreements with NASA, Italy and Brazil are also providing hardware
in exchange for small shares of NASA's utilization rights. Each
partner will be responsible for a percentage of two types of
common
operating costs: common ground operations and transportation of
common supplies. NASA, in consultation with the other USOS
partners, determined the categories and amounts of ground
operating costs that will be shared. Common ground operations
costs were estimated to be $305. 3 million in fiscal year 2004, or
33 percent of the total funding for the common
categories in NASA's budget. Table 2 shows the categories of
ground operations costs and the amount that will be shared as
common costs.
Table 2: Common Ground Operating Costs for Fiscal Year 2004
Current dollars in million
Common ground operations categories Common cost
Integrated tactical planning $52. 7 Space systems operations 106.
5 POIC a operations and logistics 46. 6 Integrated logistics
systems operations 28. 8 Pre- launch/ post- landing operations 70.
7
Total $305. 3
a Payload Operations and Integration Center.
Common supplies to be transported to the space station include
propellant, crew, crew supplies such as food and clothing, life
support gases, and water. Common transportation requirements were
estimated to average about 66, 000 kilograms per year over the 10-
year period after assembly is completed. A partner may reimburse
NASA for launching its share of supplies on the shuttle, fund the
launch of the common supplies on its own resupply vehicle, or
purchase or barter for launch services from another
partner. Table 3 shows the allocations of common ground operations
costs and common supply transportation requirements for each USOS
partner.
Table 3: USOS Partner Shares of Annual Common Operations Costs
Current dollars in millions
Percent of Common ground
Common transportation USOS partner common costs operating costs a
kilograms b
United States 76. 6 $233. 9 50, 556 Canada 2.3 7. 0 1518 Europe
8.3 25. 3 5, 478 Japan 12.8 39. 1 8, 448
Total 100. 0 $305. 3 66, 000
a Estimated common ground operating costs for fiscal year 2004. b
Approximate average annual common cargo requirement.
As stipulated in the international agreements, NASA's partners do
not pay common operating costs until they begin utilizing the
space station. Partner utilization is expected to begin when their
research modules are launched and outfitted near the end of the
assembly sequence. The
Japanese laboratory module should be ready for utilization in
fiscal year 2003; the European laboratory module in fiscal year
2004. Canada does not have its own laboratory but has rights to
research facilities in other partner modules. Canada can begin
conducting research in 2000 after its major hardware contribution,
the space station's robotic arm, is attached to the space station
and verified. Canada plans to begin utilization in 2001, but has
flexibility to delay starting its research. NASA will be solely
responsible for funding USOS space station operations for most of
the assembly period, and it will also be the only partner with
utilization privileges during most of that period. Russia also has
utilization rights in its segment during assembly. To conduct
research before their laboratories
are available, partners can purchase or barter for early
utilization rights from NASA or RSA. NASA's Share of Costs Has
NASA's share of common costs has increased from 71. 4 percent in
1988 to Changed Over Time
76. 6 percent at present, and its share could change again if the
partners reassess their level of participation in the space
station program. If the shared costs were $305 million and common
transportation requirements were 66,000 kilograms, the total 5.2
percent increase in NASA's annual share of common ground
operations costs would be about $16 million and
of transportation requirements would be about 3400 kilograms. If,
over the life of the space station, partners reduce their
participation in the program, NASA could become responsible for a
larger share of operating costs and
transportation requirements. A space station program official said
that changes in partner allocations have to be agreed to by all
the parties concerned. The official also pointed out that a
reduction in a partner's utilization share presents an opportunity
for NASA to increase its share of utilization without contributing
additional hardware. NASA would only
have to fund an increased share of common operations. Allocations
have already been renegotiated and adjusted in two cases: the
Canadian share has been reduced from 3.0 percent to 2.3 percent
and the European share reduced from 12. 8 percent to 8.3 percent.
In both cases, NASA acquired the partners' shares of costs along
with a commensurate share of utilization rights. Because of
funding shortages in 1994, the Canadian government proposed
revising its contribution to the space station, and NASA agreed to
provide the goods and services that Canada no
longer planned to contribute. In 1998, NASA and Canada agreed that
Canada could provide some of its hardware as payment for common
costs rather than as a contribution of infrastructure. Because the
1994 and 1998 agreements resulted in Canada providing less
hardware and fewer services as a contribution, Canada's share of
utilization rights dropped from 3.0 to
2.3 percent, which also had the effect of reducing its share of
common costs by the same amount. Consequently, NASA's share of
utilization rights and common costs increased by 0.7 percent. In
1995, Europe downsized its
research module-- its main hardware contribution-- and believed
that both its share of utilization resources and common costs
should be reduced accordingly. After reviewing revised European
and NASA contributions, it was agreed that Europe's share of
utilization and common costs would be
reduced from 12. 8 to 8.3 percent, and NASA's would increase by
4.5 percent. Allowing Partners to Pay
The international agreements stress that the partners should seek
to Common Costs With minimize the exchange of funds through the
performance of specific space Services May Not Reduce
station operations activities or, if the concerned partners agree,
through the NASA Funding use of barter. NASA and its partners have
agreed that rather than transferring funds to NASA for common
operating costs the partners can Requirements
propose performing common system operations or other services to
offset payments. NASA will consider and agree to offsets on a
case- by- case basis. NASA and the partners will attempt to find
offsets within the space station program. If offsets within the
space station program are not feasible, NASA is also willing to
consider offsets unrelated to the space station. For example,
rather than transferring funds to NASA for common space station
costs, a partner could propose launching a NASA space science
satellite.
Europe and Japan plan to develop and launch space station resupply
vehicles that could carry their shares of common transportation
requirements along with partner research payloads and logistics
and maintenance items for their modules. Europe is developing the
Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and Japan is developing the H- II
Transfer Vehicle (HTV). Europe and Japan would also like to launch
additional payloads for NASA to offset their shares of common
ground costs and thereby minimize transfer of funds to NASA. For
purposes of calculating the value of common cargo launched, NASA
determined that it would offset a partner's
common ground operations costs by about $22,000 for each kilogram
of cargo launched for NASA. For example, if NASA agrees, Europe
could launch 1,149 kilograms of payload on the ATV for NASA in
lieu of paying NASA $25.3 million for Europe's 8. 3 percent share
of common ground operations costs. Table 4 shows the allocation of
the estimated $305.3 million common ground operating costs to the
partners and the conversion of those common costs to kilograms of
payload that could be launched as an offset.
Table 4: Partner Shares of Common Ground Operating Costs Expressed
in Kilograms
Current dollars in millions
Partner common Partner cost in
USOS partner ground cost a kilograms b
United States $233.9 10, 608 Canada 7.0 319 Europe 25.3 1149 Japan
39.1 1773
Total $305.3 13, 848
a Estimated common ground operating costs for fiscal year 2004. b
Kilograms not exact due to rounding during conversion.
European and Japanese vehicles will make an important contribution
to resupplying the space station, but they may not carry enough
cargo to fully offset those partners' common costs. NASA
periodically prepares a transportation traffic model for the
operations period that identifies which resupply vehicles could
carry which payloads (the actual payloads to be flown on specific
vehicles will not be determined until it is closer to launch
time). The models indicate that European and Japanese cargo
vehicles would not carry enough common cargo to fully offset their
shares of common transportation and ground costs. The partners
will have to
provide additional launches, other services, or funding to NASA to
fully reimburse NASA for common operating costs.
Allowing Europe and Japan to reimburse NASA with launch services
as payment toward annual common ground operating costs would not
necessarily produce a corresponding reduction in NASA's funding
requirements. If Europe and Japan launch approximately 2,900
kilograms of NASA cargo that could have been carried on the
shuttle, it would not offset NASA annual appropriations by the $64
million value assigned to that
amount of cargo. Whether the cargo could be loaded on the shuttle
cannot be determined until about 2 years prior to a scheduled
launch, when actual payloads are selected for a particular flight.
Space station officials pointed out that even if shifting some
cargo from the shuttle to a partner vehicle does not change the
shuttle flight rate, it could benefit the program by increasing
opportunities to fly other items, such as research or commercial
payloads on the shuttle. Canada has also sought to pay common
costs through services. Since Canada does not have its own launch
capability to offer as an offset to common costs, it proposed
providing the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) that it
was developing for the space station and other services as payment
for common costs rather than as a contribution for utilization
rights. 15 In return for providing the SPDM, Canada's common costs
will be offset by 2 percent for up to 4 years, equivalent to a
$24- million reduction in its share of ground operations costs and
around 5,300 kilograms in common transportation requirements. The
agreement between Canada and NASA includes an option for an
additional offset to common operating costs. If Canada agrees to
assume responsibility for the repair and overhaul of the Canadian
robotic arm, which shifted to NASA in
1994, NASA would further reduce Canada's payments for common
ground operations and transportation requirements.
Allowing Canada to pay its share of common costs with the SPDM
does not reduce NASA funding requirements for space station
operations. NASA and Canada are simply reclassifying hardware that
Canada is planning to provide from a contribution to a payment for
common costs. There will be no reduction to NASA's budget for the
value of the SPDM offset. NASA officials believed that allowing
Canada to pay its common costs with the
15 The SPDM can be thought of as the hand' attached to the space
station's robotic arm that Canada is providing as its main
contribution. The SPDM can be used to manipulate delicate objects.
SPDM was preferable to Canada further scaling back its
contribution to the space station and NASA possibly having to
spend substantially more to develop the SPDM or similar
capability. Space station program officials
said that there would be a reduction in NASA's budget for the cost
of maintaining the arm if Canada exercises the optional offset.
Not Yet Possible to
During the space station's operational phase after assembly is
complete, Accurately Estimate the
NASA may provide launch and return transportation services on the
space Amount of Potential shuttle and communication services on
its data relay satellite system to Funding From Partners for
other partners on a reimbursable basis. To support their
utilization plans, partners have a right to obtain an allocation
of the total transportation and Reimbursable Services
communication services available for utilization commensurate with
their shares of utilization resources. A partner may satisfy its
allocation by providing its own transportation and communication
systems or purchasing from any other partner providing such
services. NASA, Europe, Japan, and Russia plan to provide
transportation services, and NASA, Japan, and Russia plan to
provide communication services.
It is too early in the planning process to accurately project
partner use of reimbursable NASA services. Although integrated
transportation models make assumptions about the amount of
utilization payloads that could be loaded on each resupply flight,
specific partner payloads will not be assigned to a particular
vehicle until about 2 years prior to a scheduled launch. Europe
and Japan are developing their own resupply vehicles, but will
likely still use the shuttle for payloads because the shuttle
provides the best conditions for some experiments during launch
and is the only vehicle that can return cargo. Russia's Soyuz
capsule also returns to Earth, but is primarily used to return
crew and has very little capacity to bring back other payloads.
After delivering supplies to the space station, the
European and Japanese vehicles will be loaded with trash, and
after leaving the space station they will be destroyed during
reentry. To communicate with the space station, the other partners
may also purchase available capacity on NASA's Tracking and Data
Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), but
NASA officials believe that it is too early to tell how much
demand the partners will have for TDRSS services. If partners do
use available space shuttle and TDRSS capacity, they are likely to
barter for these reimbursable services rather than exchange funds
with NASA. For example, Europe agreed to build two space station
cupolas for NASA in exchange for launch and return of five
external payloads. As with the barters for common operating costs,
it is too early to
tell what services the partners may provide or whether those
services will reduce NASA funding requirements. In considering
future offsets or pricing shuttle services, NASA has assumed that
shuttle cargo will be valued at about $22,000 per kilogram for
launch or return services. NASA has not yet priced potential TDRSS
services to partners.
Conclusions The complexity, long life, and international nature of
the space station program make it extremely challenging to
accurately forecast future operating costs. Since NASA originally
estimated the cost to operate the space station, the configuration
has changed and new partners are participating. Significant
uncertainties exist with respect to the funding that may be
required to upgrade obsolete components and to mitigate shortfalls
in Russian performance. Adding to this uncertainty is the fact
that the start of full operations in late 2004 is outside the
current 5- year
window for detailed NASA budgets. Also unknown at this time is the
degree that agreements with international partners for sharing
costs and for reimbursable services will offset NASA funding
requirements.
NASA's recent initiative to prepare a 10- year funding profile
should produce a more accurate estimate of future costs. In
preparing this profile, NASA will have an opportunity to
incorporate significant changes in the program since the original
$1. 3 billion estimate and to reduce significant uncertainties
surrounding operations. In particular, NASA should have more
information on requirements for combating obsolescence and
Russia's ability to fulfill its commitments. The cost estimate for
operating the space station should also improve over the next
several years as NASA gains operational experience. Also, when
NASA implements full- cost accounting, NASA will be better able to
estimate the overall agency resources required to operate the
space station. Until NASA revises its estimate and identifies the
potential effects of significant uncertainties,
decisionmakers in Congress, the administration, and NASA should
recognize the uncertainties associated with the current estimate
for the cost to operate the space station after assembly is
completed.
Agency Comments NASA agreed with the contents of the draft report
with the exception of our use of the average cost per flight in
preparing an estimate of shuttle costs related to the space
station. NASA believes that it is more appropriate to
use the marginal cost per flight to calculate shuttle support
costs for the space station. NASA describes the average cost per
flight as a calculation
to capture the fixed- base investment of the agency that must be
borne by the program whether 1 or 10 flights are required.
According to NASA, the average cost per flight can be used to
gauge the overall agency resources committed to the space station,
but should not be used to determine the direct budget impact of
the ISS program. Using the marginal cost per flight of $84 million
in fiscal year 2004, NASA believes that the shuttle support costs
for space station for five to six flights per year would range
from $420 million to $504 million. NASA's comments on the draft
report are presented in their entirety in appendix III.
We believe the use of average cost per flight is more appropriate
in determining the amount of NASA's budget that can be attributed
to operating the space station. As noted in NASA's comments, the
average
cost per flight can be used to gauge the overall agency resources
committed to the space station. This is precisely why we use the
average cost per flight. Because 75 percent of planned shuttle
flights after 2004 will be for space station support, we believe
that 75 percent of the fixed base for the shuttle should be
allocated as a cost of the space station program. As discussed in
our report, we believe it is appropriate to use the marginal cost
per flight in budgetary decisions about whether to increase or
decrease the overall shuttle flight rate. Scope and We reviewed
space station- related costs in NASA's budget for the 10- year
Methodology
period of operations following the space station's assembly. To
determine which space station- related costs were not included in
NASA's estimate for ISS operations, we reviewed prior GAO reports
on space station life- cycle costs and Space Station Program
Office (SSPO) budget documents. We interviewed NASA officials in
the SSPO, Space Shuttle Program Office,
Microgravity Research Program Office, Office of Human Space
Flight, Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications,
and Office of the Comptroller. We also discussed obsolescence
issues with a member of NASA's space station Cost Assessment and
Validation Task Force and the
National Research Council's Committee on Engineering Challenges to
the Long- Term Operation of the International Space Station. To
determine the level of uncertainty in NASA's operations cost
estimate, we reviewed NASA Operations Phase Analysis Team reports
and interviewed NASA officials involved in preparing the initial
operations cost estimate as well as SSPO officials responsible for
estimating current operations cost elements. We also interviewed
officials from the Space Shuttle Program Office, Microgravity
Research Program Office, Office of
Human Space Flight, Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and
Applications, and Office of the Comptroller. To determine the
potential impact of Russian performance problems, we reviewed
NASA's contingency plans and ISS integrated traffic models, and
interviewed officials from the SSPO's Mission Integration Office.
To determine if cost- sharing arrangements with international
partners would reduce NASA's funding requirements, we reviewed the
intergovernmental agreement on space station between the United
States and partner governments, memoranda of understanding and
implementing agreements between NASA and partner space agencies,
and ISS integrated traffic models. We interviewed officials from
the SSPO's International Partners Office and Mission Integration
Office.
We performed our work between July 1998 and May 1999 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards at NASA
headquarters in Washington, D. C.; the Johnson Space Center in
Houston, Texas; and the Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, Alabama.
Unless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we plan no
further distribution of this report until 15 days from its issue
date. At that time, we will send copies to Representative Dana
Rohrabacher, Chairman, andRepresentative Bart Gordon, Ranking
Minority Member, House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics; the
Honorable Daniel Goldin, NASA Administrator; the Honorable Jacob
Lew, Director, Office of Management and Budget; and other
interested parties. We will also make copies available to others
on request.
If you have any questions regarding this report, please contact me
at (202) 512- 4841. Other key contacts are listed in appendix IV.
Allen Li Associate Director, Defense Acquisitions Issues
Letter 1 Appendix I
28 International Partner Contributions
Appendix II 35
Description of Operation Costs Budget Elements
Appendix III 37
Comments From the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Appendix IV 38
GAO Staff Acknowledgments
Tables Table 1: Elements of Operations Cost to Be Funded in Space
Station Budget 8
Table 2: Common Ground Operating Costs for Fiscal Year 2004 16
Table 3: USOS Partner Shares of Annual Common Operations
Costs 17 Table 4: Partner Shares of Common Ground Operating Costs
Expressed in Kilograms 19 Table I. 1: Approximate Hardware Mass
Provided by Partners 30 Table I. 2: Allocation of Research
Facilities and Resources 33
Figures Figure 1: Artist's Conception of Fully Assembled ISS on
Orbit 5 Figure I. 1: Components of ISS 29
Figure I. 2: ISS Transportation Capabilities 34
Abbreviations
ATV Automated Transfer Vehicle CRV Crew Return Vehicle HTV H- II
Transfer Vehicle IGA Intergovernmental Agreement ISS International
Space Station JEM Japanese Experiment Module NASA National
Aeronautics and Space Administration POIC Payload Operations and
Integration Center RSA Russian Space Agency SPDM Special Purpose
Dexterous Manipulator SSPO Space Station Program Office TDRSS
Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ULC Unpressurized
Logistics Carrier USOS United States On- Orbit Segment
Appendi I x International Partner Contributions International
Space The major partners in the International Space Station (ISS)
program Station Partners
include the United States; Canada; Europe (Belgium, Denmark,
France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, and the United Kingdom); Japan; and Russia. Brazil is
also participating in the
space station program. The overall framework for international
cooperation is contained in an intergovernmental agreement (IGA),
originally signed by the partners in 1988 and updated in 1998 to
add Russia to the partnership. 1 Brazil is not a signatory to the
IGA, but instead participates in the ISS program through an
arrangement with National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA). Cooperation on the space station is further defined in
memoranda of understanding between NASA and each of the major
partners. NASA also has a series of bilateral agreements with
individual partners for barter of goods and services.
Hardware Contributions by Each of the partners has agreed to
provide components to the space
Partners station. For purposes of determining partner utilization
rights and
common operations obligations, the space station is viewed as two
segments, the United States On- orbit Segment (USOS) and the
Russian Obital Segment. The USOS includes contributions from the
United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil. The Russian
Orbital Segment consists entirely of Russian hardware. Figure I. 1
illustrates the space station components each partner plans to
provide.
1 Agreement Among the Government of Canada, Governments of Member
States of the European Space Agency, the Government of Japan, the
Government of the Russian Federation, and the Government of the
United States of America Concerning Cooperation on the Civil
International Space Station, January 29, 1998.
Figure I. 1: Components of ISS
Science Power Platform
Service Module
Docking Compartment
Zarya (Sunrise) Control Module
Universal Docking
P6 Truss Module
Segment Pressurized
Solar Alpha Mating Adaptor 1
Rotary Joint Port Research
P5 Truss Photovoltaic
Module Soyuz Research Thermal Control
P3 Truss Segment
Arrays Module
Docking and Panels
Segment Soyuz
Stowage Module
Mobile Express
S0 Truss Servicing
Pallet Segment
System S3 Truss
Brazil
S6 Truss Segment P1 Truss
Segment Segment
Canadian Remote S4 Truss
Manipulator System P4 Truss Segment
Unity S1 Truss
(Node 1) Z1 Truss Segment
Segment S5 Truss
Segment Centrifuge Accomodation Module
Segment Cupola
JEM Experiment Logistics Module Starboard
Airlock Photovoltaic
JEM Remote Manipulator System Arrays
Solar Alpha Rotary Joint
US Node 3
Lab JEM Exposed Facility
Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Habitation
Node 2
Italy
Crew Module
Pressurized Mating Adaptor 2 Return
Pressurized European LabColumbus
Multi- Purpose Logistics Module Vehicle Mating Adaptor 3
Orbital Facility United States
Canada Japan
Europe Russia
Source: NASA.
Infrastructure and There are two basic types of contributions to
the space station: Accommodation Elements infrastructure and
accommodations elements. Infrastructure elements and
systems enable the use and operation of the station by all
partners. Examples include power systems; life support systems;
the station robotic arm; guidance, navigation, and control
systems; crew habitation modules; airlocks; truss segments; and
connecting nodes. Accommodation elements are research facilities
that include pressurized laboratories and external payload sites.
NASA, Canada, and Russia are contributing infrastructure elements.
NASA, Europe, Japan, and Russia are contributing accommodation
elements. Table I. 1 shows the approximate hardware mass to be
provided by each partner.
Table I. 1: Approximate Hardware Mass Provided by Partners Partner
Hardware mass (lbs.) Percent of ISS mass
United States 592,000 60 Canada 10,000 1 Europe 27,000 3 Japan
74,000 7 Total USOS a 703,000 71
Russia 287,000 29 Total ISS 990,000 100
a USOS includes hardware from the United States, Canada, Europe,
and Japan.
U. S. Components Are Being Several components that are considered
U. S. contributions to the space
Built by Other Partners. station are being built by other
countries. The first space station element that was launched, the
Zarya module, was built by a Russian company under a contract with
Boeing, the prime contractor for the U. S. space station hardware.
Because funding for the Zarya module originated from NASA, the
module is a U. S. contribution to the space station. Other U. S.
contributions are being built by international partners as offsets
to services NASA is providing to those partners.
 NASA will launch the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) on three
shuttle flights. One flight will be dedicated to Japan's
pressurized laboratory, and two flights will carry both Japanese
and NASA
components. In return, Japan is providing to NASA the centrifuge
accommodation module and centrifuge rotor, life sciences glovebox,
eight payload interface units for integrating NASA experiments on
the
JEM exposed facility, and launch services for a NASA payload on
Japan's H- IIA launch vehicle. Candidate payloads include space
and earth science satellites.  NASA will also launch Europe's
laboratory module, the Columbus Orbital Facility. One shuttle
flight will be required to launch the
European laboratory. In return, Europe is providing NASA with two
connecting nodes, cryogenic freezer racks, crew refrigerator/
freezer racks, sustaining engineering and spares for a laboratory
freezer and microgravity science glovebox, and hardware and
support for NASA's Software Development Integration Laboratory.
Europe is also providing NASA with a microgravity sciences
glovebox,
freezers to transport thermally controlled items to the station, a
hexapod pointing system for NASA's external payloads, and mission
database software for use in NASA's Mission Build Facility. In
return, Europe will receive a share of utilization rights to NASA
research facilities prior to the launch of Europe's laboratory.
Europe will also get two flight opportunities for astronauts on
the space shuttle.
 In another barter agreement, Europe is providing two cupolas to
NASA in exchange for shuttle launch services for external European
payloads. The cupolas are multiwindowed elements that will attach
to modules
and will allow station crew members greater visibility during
external operations. In return, NASA will launch five external
payloads on the shuttle. Three of the payloads will be launched
during the early utilization period defined in the agreement
above. Two of the payloads will be cooperative payloads between
Europe and NASA.
 In addition to contributing space station components as a member
of the European Space Agency, Italy is providing hardware to NASA
through a bilateral agreement between NASA and the Italian Space
Agency. Italy is providing three Mini Pressurized Logistics
Modules that will be carried by the shuttle and used to transport
supplies and experiments to and from the space station. In return,
Italy will be provided a small percentage of NASA's pressurized
and external utilization accommodations and utilization resources,
shuttle launch and return services for Italian payloads, and data
communications services. Italy will also be entitled to flight
opportunities out of NASA's allocation for three ISS or shuttle
crew members.  Brazil has agreed to provide the Technology
Experiment Facility, Block
2 of the Window Observational Research Facility, EXPRESS Pallet,
Unpressurized Logistics Carrier (ULC), Cargo Handling Interface
Assembly, and a ULC Attach System for mounting the ULC on the ISS
truss. In return, NASA, from its ISS allocation, will provide
Brazil access to a small portion of pressurized and external
experiment space, shuttle
launch and return services for Brazilian experiments, and data
communication services. To carry out its experiments, NASA will
provide a small percentage of its utilization resources to Brazil.
Finally, NASA will provide Brazil with the opportunity to fly one
astronaut on ISS for one crew rotation period.  NASA and Europe
are also negotiating a role for Europe in the development of the
X- 38 experimental space vehicle. The X- 38 is being
developed as a predecessor to an operational crew return vehicle
for the space station. In this case, NASA and the European Space
Agency are cooperating on the development without offsets. Europe
is participating with the expectation that it will enhance the
potential for future European involvement in the development and
production of
future operational Crew Return Vehicles (CRV). If Europe provides
components for operational CRVs, NASA and Europe may negotiate an
offset to Europe's share of common operations costs.
Allocation of Research As compensation for providing elements and
resources that benefit all the
Facilities and Resources partners, the partners agreed that those
providing infrastructure elements would be entitled to an
allocation of research facilities provided by the
other partners. For example, as compensation for providing the
space station's robotic arm, Canada is entitled to use 2. 3
percent of the user facilities in each of the other partners'
laboratory modules. Based on
contributions to the station and allocations of utilization
accommodations, the partners also agreed on a division of
utilization resources. These resources include power, user-
servicing capability, heat rejection, data handling, crew time,
and extra- vehicular activity capacity. NASA received
an additional allocation of accommodation elements and resources
to recognize NASA's lead role in the management and integration of
the space station program. Partners are free to barter or sell
their accommodations and resources to other partners or other
acceptable entities. For example, during the assembly period, NASA
purchased 4,000 hours of Russian crew time and stowage space on
Russian modules for $60 million. Table I. 2
shows the percentage of user accommodations and utilization
resources allocated to each partner on the USOS.
Table I. 2: Allocation of Research Facilities and Resources
Percentage of USOS partner allocations USOS research facilities U.
S. Canada Europe Japan
U. S. laboratory, external sites 97. 7 2. 3 European Columbus
Orbital Facility 46. 7 2.3 51.0 Japanese Experiment Module 46. 7
2. 3 51. 0 Utilization resources 76.6 2. 3 8.3 12.8
Russia is also providing both infrastructure elements and research
facilities. However, to minimize the impact on existing
relationships and allocations between the partners, it was agreed
that Russia would be treated separately. Russia will retain the
use of 100 percent of the user accommodations on its laboratory
modules and external payload sites and will not share in
utilization accommodations and resources provided by USOS
partners.
ISS Transportation Services Several partners are also planning to
provide transportation services to the space station to carry
crew, propellant, supplies, and experiments. NASA's space shuttle
can dock to pressurized mating adapters on Node 2 or Node 3 of the
U. S. segment. Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) will be
launched by the Ariane V expendable rocket and most likely will
dock to Russia's Service Module. Japan's H- II Transfer Vehicle
(HTV) will be launched on Japan's H- II rocket and will be berthed
to Node 2. Russian
Progress and Soyuz vehicles will be launched on Soyuz rockets, and
they can dock to several locations on the Russian segment. The U.
S.- built CRV will be attached to Node 3. During a typical year of
operations after assembly complete, NASA plans to fly five to six
shuttles a year to the station; Russia, three to four Progress and
two Soyuz; Europe, one ATV; and Japan one to two HTVs. The CRV
will be attached to the station for 3 years before being rotated.
The shuttle, Soyuz, and CRV are the only vehicles capable of
transporting crew and returning to Earth. After unloading their
cargo onto the station, the Progress, ATV, and HTV vehicles will
be loaded with non- recoverable items and after separating from
the station, will be destroyed during reentry into the Earth's
atmosphere. Figure I. 2 shows the vehicles that plan to service
the space station after assembly is completed.
Figure I. 2: ISS Transportation Capabilities Vehicle Payload a
Cargo
Available Types
Date Shuttle
 Crew Rotation  Available  Pressurized
16, 420 kg  Unpressurized
 Gas, Water
Soyuz- TM
 Crew Rotation 480 kg
 Pressurized  Available
Progress- M1
 Pressurized 2, 230 kg
 Unpressurized 1999
 Propellant  Gas, Water
ATV
7, 500 kg  Pressurized
 Gas, Water 2003
 Propellant
HTV
 Pressurized  Water
2002 6, 000 kg
 Unpressurized
CRV
 Crew Return 2003
TBD kg a Payload capability to an altitude of 407 kilometers at an
orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees. Source: The Boeing Company.
Description of Operation Costs Budget Appendi I I x Elements The
elements that comprise the operations costs funded in the space
station budget are described briefly below. Operations Planning
and
Operations planning includes the costs related to defining the
resources, Cargo Integration
allocations, research objectives, priorities, and manifests for
each mission. It includes cargo planning and analysis, cargo
engineering, and external program integration. Cargo integration
covers the costs associated with identifying the items to be
transported and returned on each mission and their location on the
shuttle or other vehicle.
Sustaining Engineering Sustaining engineering provides the basic
engineering capability needed to keep the station operating. This
includes resolving anomalies and developing enhancements.
Sustaining engineering includes the following functions: station
performance, trend, and anomaly analysis; maintenance
of station analytical models; development of hardware and software
modifications; and configuration management of flight hardware and
software. Logistics and Maintenance The purpose of logistics and
maintenance is to keep all space station systems in working order,
maintain all necessary life support functions,
provide continuous station operations, support crew activities,
and provide the necessary resources for conducting scientific
experiments. This involves preventive maintenance, the planned
replacement of life- limited hardware, and replacement of failed
units. Station Operations Support Station operations support funds
the development and implementation
activities necessary to train and certify flight controllers, crew
members, and training instructors for the station. Among other
things, it also funds planning and analysis tools for pre- mission
and real- time operations support, trajectory and flight design,
timelines, resource utilization, onboard systems, and performance
analysis.
Launch Site Processing The Launch Site Processing Office is
responsible for the processing and integration of space station
flight hardware at Kennedy Space Center. It is
also responsible for the design, development, operations, and
maintenance of space station launch site facilities and ground
support equipment.
Institutional Support The institutional support budget element
includes the cost for facilities that are used by multiple
research and development programs. The
institutional charges help to fund the basic operating cost of
such facilities. Utilization Support The utilization budget
element includes the cost of customizing hardware
to accommodate payloads for scientific research and the cost of
payload integration and operations. Payload integration and
operations includes the Payload Data Library (a database system
used to collect payload user requirements), Payload Planning
System (a software system used to create
ground and on- board planning products), Payload Operations and
Integration Center (the facility from which the mission is
executed), and Payload Operations and Integration Function
(engineers who staff the Payload Operations and Integration
Center).
Research Projects This budget element includes the costs of
facilities for research that NASA expects to perform on the space
station. The core of the space station research program will be
its eight major research facilities: Gravitational Biology
Facility, Centrifuge Facility, Human Research Facility, Materials
Science Facility, Biotechnology Facility, Fluids and Combustion
Facility,
Window Observational Research Facility, and Low Temperature
Microgravity Physics Facility.
Crew Return Vehicle CRV operations costs are incurred for items
such as logistics and Operations maintenance planning, procuring
spares, training, ground support, and sustaining engineering. This
estimate does not include the additional costs that would be
incurred if the CRV had to be used in an emergency. Reserves
Reserves reflect the amount of uncommitted funds and provide
program
managers with the ability to cover unanticipated contingencies.
Comments From the National Aeronautics Appendi I I I x and Space
Administration
Appendi V I x GAO Staff Acknowledgments Acknowledgments Vijay
Barnabas, Steven Boyles, Richard Eiserman, and Jerry Herley also
made key contributions to this report.
Elements of Operations Cost to Be Funded in Space Station Budget 8
Common Ground Operating Costs for Fiscal Year 2004 16 USOS Partner
Shares of Annual Common Operations Costs 17 Partner Shares of
Common Ground Operating Costs Expressed in Kilograms 19
Approximate Hardware Mass Provided by Partners 30 Allocation of
Research Facilities and Resources 33
job code Let er t
GAO United States General Accounting Office
GAO/NSIAD-99-177
Page 1 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D. C. 20548
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Contents
Contents Page 27 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
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Appendix I
Appendix I International Partner Contributions
Page 29 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix I International Partner Contributions
Page 30 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix I International Partner Contributions
Page 31 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix I International Partner Contributions
Page 32 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix I International Partner Contributions
Page 33 GAO/NSIAD-99-177 Space Station Operations
Appendix I International Partner Contributions
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Appendix II
Appendix II Description of Operation Costs Budget Elements
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Appendix III
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Appendix IV
(707355) Let t er
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Artist's Conception of Fully Assembled ISS on Orbit. 5 Components
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